Front row from left, Samantha Burdick, Ruby Martin, Bianca Lara, Danielle Jacobo and Brittany Jeter. Back row from left, Jordan Hollan, professor Nakia Welch, Chris Arnold and Andrew Carter.

Bounding to their third win this semester, the College of the Mainland Debate Team garnered the Top Community College Award at the Tiger Invitational International Public Debate Tournament held at East Texas Baptist University.

Students on the COM team, many of whom debated for the first time this semester, competed against students from colleges and universities across the Gulf Coast and earned the most points of any community college team.
“This is the team’s first full year. We’re out of the gates, running strong,” said professor Nakia Welch, COM debate team coach.
In addition to the team victory, COM novice debater Andrew Carter made it to the semifinals at East Texas Baptist University and novice debater Samantha Burdick finished as the seventh place speaker out of the 51 competitors.
“I was happy with my outcome,” said Burdick, of Texas City. “I used to be shy. Debate has opened so many doors for me. It has helped me in my job as a salesperson."
Jordan Hollan, of Santa Fe, enjoys debating topics from potential laws to pop culture. Joining the team helped him gain critical thinking skills and expand his comfort zone.
“I think the entire team is doing better,” he said, adding that debate has helped him as a student. “I’m an introvert. (Debate) helps me learn to connect with people.”
Welch coaches students on debate theory and critical thinking, using a variety of strategies from think-on-your-feet games to sometimes-rambunctious discussions of current events.
Excited by their consecutive wins this month at tournaments at East Texas Baptist University and Louisiana State University in Shreveport, the team looks forward to the next semester of debate.
“The benefits of debate are more than public speaking,” said Welch. “It gives students direction, purpose and skills along the way to be successful.”