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Mansell’s passion inspires debate

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Senior Ryan Mansell, a political science and speech communication major, is also the captain of the Debate Team. Since joining the debate team, Mansell has strengthened his teammates and encouraged them all to learn as much as they can. In a recent speech he used sports as an example to describe how to prepare a debate argument. He plans to attend law school after graduation and has already received an acceptance letter from Cornell University. / photo by Katherine Careaga

Alex Forbess
Staff Writer

Ryan Mansell, captain of the debate team, has been the key element maintaining the program’s stardom by displaying a few characteristics: determination, motivation, innovation and selflessness.

A senior double majoring in political science and speech communication, Mansell is proud of learning and executing the proper form of speech.

This drive for success has propelled him to master it and allowed the debate team to gain numerous achievements, worldwide and local.

“I consider speech to be my identity,” Mansell said.

Whether it is in practice or in a tournament, speech allowed Mansell to gain a vast exposure of different topics. He believes everything that he learned through speech will be beneficial in life.

“It is wise to know, speaking professionally,” Mansell said. “You can use it in interviews and improve your career. It is not always about competing.”

Ever since he was a freshman in high school, Mansell considered speech his niche.

He was accepted into the debate team after a walk-in practice and knew this was his calling.

“Speech was the one thing I am really good at and liked,” Mansell said.

While finishing his senior year in high school, Mansell wanted to further pursue speech at a collegiate level.

He heard great things about the debate team and decided to contact Ian Lising, assistant professor of speech and debate.

“He was brave enough to call me on the phone,” Lising said. “He struck me as highly intelligent and very well-read for a guy coming out of high school.”

Lising was thrilled to meet Mansell and invited him to attend an open practice.

While Lising and Mansell sat side-by-side, Lising explained the responsibilities of each debater.

Mansell was interested with the role of the prime minister, who is the first speaker that introduces the debaters and the most important component in a debate team.

Lising was surprised by his request.

“Mansell asked if he could practice being the prime minister,” Lising said. “When I was in high school, I would have not of even thought of volunteering to take on this position.”

After a practice, Lising said that Mansell pulled it off well and impressed everyone.

While everyone acknowledged Mansell to be a gifted speaker, he maintained a sheltered world.

It took him a while to develop trust and accept the debate strategy Lising was teaching.

Director of Forensics Robert Ruiz said Mansell grew into a team player.

Now that he is captain, he has become one of the most selfless team players.

“He grew from a cocoon to a person who has embraced the speech experience,” Lising said.

Teammate Ava Jahanvash, junior and double-major in political science and economics, expresses gratitude for Mansell’s contributions to the team.

Jahanvash said he takes time to help new members improve in their communication. If a member was hesitant to ask Lising or Ruiz for advice, Mansell will be present to assist anyway possible.

“He decided to take a step back from speaking and helping with the judging,” Jahanvash said. “He is a student you can relate with.”

With his senior year ending, Mansell now wants to pursue another interest: justice and law.

He is applying prestigious law school and already received an acceptance letter to Cornell University.

“With Mansell, anything is limitless,” Lising said. “He is one of those people you will read in the newspapers and say, ‘Wow, this person is something special.’”

Alex Forbess can be reached at

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