Photo courtesy of Nirmit Chandan

Communications freshman Nirmit Chandan poses with communications senior Maya Levkovitz moments after receiving their awards for Congressional Debate. Both Chandan and Levkovitz qualified for the 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament on June 17 through 22 in Fort Lauderdale.

For most Dreyfoos students, freshman year is a time for strategic locker selection, AP Human Geography, and pep rally loss. For communications freshman Nirmit Chandan, freshman year has revolved around his passion for speech and debate.

Over the course of the year, Chandan has been developing his researching, writing, and presentation skills in order to qualify for the 2018 National Speech and Debate Tournament, which is taking place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Throughout the past few months, Chandan has been spending his Saturdays in congressional chambers competing for a spot in the national caliber tournament. After hours spent debating and competing, Chandan passed the preliminary matches necessary to be a contender for the ultimate first place prize.

What event do you compete in? What work does that event entail?

I compete in Congressional Debate, and there are a lot of different things that competing in Congressional Debate [entails]. One of the things that you have to do is, first, read the legislation that’s been provided to you, and start off by understanding what it’s asking you to do and what the legislation is trying to accomplish. Then, do some background research at the beginning and see what stance you want to take, and also understand what stance the majority of the chamber is going to take. A lot of the time, for competitive sake, it’s good to be the devil’s advocate and go on the opposing side. You want to have words and phrases that entice the audience and the judges so that they’re able to really relate to your speeches.


Where did your passion for debate originate?

My passion for debate started in middle school when I was first introduced to it. I was basically forced into it, but I was like, ‘OK, I’ll do it. It seems fun.’ When I attended my first tournament, I had no idea what it entailed, but it was life-changing for me. Speech and Debate has actually changed my life: the way I carry myself, the way that I’m able to talk to other people, the way that I’m able to create sentences. Everything that comes with Speech and Debate has impacted my life so greatly.


How did you receive a spot at Nationals?

You had to go to a qualifier tournament and place first in your respective house, or if you were in the senate, you would have to place in the top two. They separated all of us into chambers and it was on a Friday, [so] we got to have school off. We had to go to Palm Beach State College and compete there. It was really fun; it was a great experience. I more so went to the qualifier tournament because I obviously wanted to go to nationals, but I understand that as a freshman, it’s less likely that you get to go. I think it was a really great opportunity. I’m glad that I qualified.


What did you learn?

I learned [to have] fun with your friends. For a lot of my friends, it was their last time competing as a senior, because [in] the NSDA qualifier tournament, if you don’t qualify, it could potentially be your last tournament ever. It was more about having fun with your teammates and your friends than about competing. Debate is a lot more to me than competing, winning trophies, and qualifying. It’s about the connections that you make and the experiences that you have. I think one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is that it’s not about winning.