From left, Stuart Simpton, Amylin Hicks, McKenzie Godeaux, Harry Hathaway, Kereece McLean, Dr. Cody H. Smith, Cade Soulsby-Monroy.

At 18, McKenzie Godeaux, a senior in College of the Mainland Collegiate High School from Dickinson, has learned to keep smiling while debating students from community colleges and universities often three or four years older (and more experienced) than she is.

Her persistence was rewarded recently and as she became a semifinalist placing third place overall in the novice division at the national International Public Debate Association Tournament held at Lee College.

“She is passionate. She smiles and has a lot of energy and a lot of positivity,” said coach Dr. Cody Smith.

As a COM Collegiate High School Student, Godeaux takes all her classes at COM and can participate in extracurricular activities at COM and her high school. She will graduate this year from Texas City High School and from COM with an associate degree in general studies.

This is her second year to debate.

“I fell in love with it. I love meeting new people from all over the country. I’ve made friends from other schools I see constantly (at tournaments),” said Godeaux, who is also involved with theatre and dance. “These are going to be my lifelong friends.”

Godeaux plans to major in speech pathology at Texas State University.

“I really like speaking and communication, and this way I can help people,” said Godeaux. “I can help debaters.”

Competing against teams from across the nation, the COM Debate Team was placed second for community colleges and fourth for all colleges. Student Aaron Maxwell was the sixth place junior varsity speaker at nationals.

Debaters discussed current topics from whether Great Britain should eliminate the monarchy to whether Netflix is better than Amazon Prime. Judges at the tournament ranked students on their logic and argumentation as well as speaking ability.

“We debated students from 55 colleges and universities,” said Dr. Cody Smith, coach of COM’s Debate Team. “We surpassed a lot of expectations this year. We’re regularly in finals and semifinals. That’s the territory where you usually hear four-year university students competing. We’ve had students offered scholarships to four-year universities.”

No experience is necessary to join the debate team; students must sign up and be in good standing at the college.

For more information on the Debate Team, contact Smith at