Student Stories

Jalaine SheehanJoining a speech and debate team was the last thing Jalaine Sheehan thought she would do in college. She was terrified of public speaking and did not think people cared about her opinions. However, she soon had to face her fears when Shannon Valdivia, speech and forensics instructor at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC), recruited Sheehan for MHCCs Forensics Team. The Forensics Team provides students with the opportunity to use their speaking, analytical and critical thinking skills to compete in tournaments. Seriously, I never thought Id be on the speech and debate team, but now, Im so glad that I am, Sheehan said.

Through the Forensics Team, Sheehan learned the skills to articulate her opinions and overcome her fear of public speaking. Not only did she overcome her fear, she excelled at speech and debate. During her second term on the team, Sheehan earned numerous first and second place finishes in the informative speaking category and, in her first attempt debating, a first place finish in Novice Parliamentary Debate with partner Molli Holt.

Sheehan practices with the Forensics Team twice per week. Besides practicing speeches, the students discuss current events, review newspaper articles and conduct research on assigned topics. The preparation pays off, since competitors are unaware of the topics they will debate until arriving at the tournament. In addition to helping Sheehan prepare for competition, these practice sessions have expanded her understanding of world and current events, which has helped her in her classes. I feel smarter and more well-rounded, she explained. I feel more connected with the world.

Participating on MHCCs Forensics Team not only helped Sheehan grow as a person, but also helped alleviate the monetary burden of college. Through her participation on the team, she received an academic grant that covers half the cost of tuition.

Sheehan, who plans on transferring to Portland State University, recommends the Forensics Team to anyone who wants to share their opinions. I know if there's something I need to say, I can do it now, said Sheehan. Im not afraid to share my opinions.

For more information about MHCCs Forensics Team, contact Shannon Valdivia at 503-491-7634 or

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 Last Modified: 10/1/2014 07:36:10 AM