I posted this story on A&M’s Liberal Arts website on June 3rd. It’s a brief profile on Ryan Rigda, head of Texas A&M’s speech and debate team.
Ryan Ridga’s office features a shelf lined with trophies.
Aside from his own studies as a communication graduate student, he also works as director of the Texas A&M University Speech and Debate Team, a position he has held since last year. What started as a small club has become a nationally-ranked program, earning all of the trophies on his shelf.
Rigda handles the logistics of running the organization, finding new debate topics, and coaching. The team participates in two styles of debate. The first is called Parliamentary debate, which pits competitors against each other on a new topic each round. Teams are given only 20 to 30 minutes to prepare. The second style of debate is Lincoln-Douglas, in which there is only one topic and more time to prepare.
Rigda has been involved in the speech and debate world since high school, when a teacher said he had a good voice and would be a good fit on the team. It really brought him out of his shell and bolstered his confidence, he said. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan in 2012, then his master’s at Central Michigan University in 2014. And all the while he continued debating, which improved more than just his public speaking skills.
“[Debating] gives you confidence, knowing you have this ability a lot of people haven’t perfected,” Rigda said. “It also increases critical thinking.”
Speech and debate allows people to make friends from across the country, and the networking can lead to future job prospects.
Since several students have recently graduated or moved on, the team is in a rebuilding year. Rigda said they are hoping to attract new students and increase the number of events they can compete in. Any students who are interested should visit the A&M Speech and Debate Team’s website.
EDIT: This story was also featured in Texas A&M Today on June 8th.