Tip of Texas team celebrates hard work, reflecting well on all of the RGV
As those who follow the National Hispanic Institute’s Texas Great Debate know, the rivalry between the Tip of Texas team (representing Brownsville and surrounding communities) and the Rio Grande Valley (representing McAllen and surrounding communities) is very real.
But for Tip of Texas Assistant Project Administrator Jorge Lee, who was instrumental in leading Tip of Texas to its recent win in the first-ever Texas GDx, Tip’s win reflects well on all who live in the RGV.
“This victory belongs to the participants who were willing to invest their time in the organization and to our volunteers who created the environment in which said participants could improve and excel,” Lee said the day after last Friday’s win. “It is in equal parts exciting and meaningful.”
He added. “It is the tenth year in a row that a team from the Rio Grande Valley earns the championship; for ten years we have been challenging and redefining social narratives about what it means to be a denizen of the 956.”
Though Tip of Texas excelled in the competition, with a great number of students in the final round on Friday, many of them were relatively new to debating and competitive public speaking.
“I went into GDx not knowing absolutely anything about CX or how to debate, but by the end of the program, I felt fully prepared and confident in my public-speaking abilities,” said Maria Fernanda Solis of Veterans Memorial High School in Brownsville, who finished 2nd Place in Cross-Examination. “I grew as a person in many ways because I became more comfortable in my speaking skills. I don’t regret anything about my experience, it was very fun and memorable. I can’t wait to come back and continue my journey with NHI.”
Zachary Edelstein, Solis’s Cross-X partner (also from Veterans Memorial), noted, “To me, NHI was an amazing experience. I had a lot of fun, whether it was just practicing with my friends or staying up late fixing my line of questioning. I learned a lot of important skills through NHI, especially leadership and how to speak in public. It was a really great experience and I would definitely recommend it.”
Though the online platform was new to the students, Tip’s ability to adapt to it was key to their success.
“The GDx and NHI experience was amazing!” exclaimed Madelyn Rodriguez, Mock Trial All-State Witness, who attends South Texas Academy of Medical Professions in San Benito. “Even though we only had Zoom calls, the friendships I have made not only with my team but from other regions are some I cherish dearly. The team trial rounds were fun and exciting and I was even named All-State Witness. It was an overall phenomenal experience that I will remember for years to come. The skills I have learned will be invaluable for my future endeavors.”
“NHI was a great experience for me because it taught me how to be a more enthusiastic and confident speaker,” added Will Hainley of Brownsville’s Saint Joseph Academy, who won 1st Place in Extemporaneous Speaking. “My favorite part was the team meetings in between rounds when we got to talk to our teammates about how we did during the competition. After being locked up because of COVID-19, it was nice to socialize with people, even if it was online.”
“I was pleasantly surprised that NHI was able to provide a fun and exciting online opportunity that facilitated a true bonding experience with my team through competition,” added Reece Sampayo, the Mock Trial All-State Attorney from Veterans Memorial.
As is customary with NHI programs, Tip participants found the strengthening of friendships, the building of networks, and the sense of accomplishment to be central to their experience.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Danna Rodriguez of Veterans Memorial, named Most Improved on her team. “NHI changed me in different ways and made me grow as a person. At the beginning, I was too shy. I would sway back-and-forth out of nervousness; that was two months ago. Now, I speak with confidence and passion. At times I felt like giving up, but then I would remember I have a lot of people to prove wrong. Even though I didn’t make it to finals, it was the best experience without a doubt. I’m excited to continue my journey with NHI.”
“I was very pleased to have been part of NHI this year, added Arely Ceballos of Saint Joseph Academy, who reached the All-State tier in Oratory. “I’m extremely proud of my accomplishments, those of my Oratory category, and the Tip of Texas region as a whole.”
Though the team will enjoy their victory this week, their summer journey in NHI can continue with the Digital Leadership Symposium, which includes a July 30 College Fair, and the Cafe y Cultura series, which will include sessions with accomplished NHI alumni. (Students should watch NHIMagazine.com, Instagram, and their email inboxes for updates on programs that will keep them engaged throughout the summer.)
The Texas GDx was sponsored in part by Union Pacific and State Farm.