Excitement, Experience, and Education: NCFCA Debate

Jun 23, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

by Ellie Pudewa


“The function of education . . . is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. . . .
                      Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
                                                                                    – Martin Luther King Jr.

There are certain skill sets I have learned in my life, but some of the most valuable skills I have learned are from being involved in speech and debate while growing up. The youngest of seven children, I was homeschooled through twelfth grade. As an introvert, my biggest challenge growing up was not wanting to express my opinions or engage in conversation. As I entered my pre-teen years, my personality became increasingly shy and reserved.

When I was twelve years old, I joined the NCFCA Speech and Debate league. Being a debater is all about speaking your mind and not being afraid to ask questions or engage with others. Although it took some time to adjust, I slowly began to become a more open person. I began to feel comfortable taking my questions, opinions, and ideas outside of the competition room and into the real world. Over time I grew more confident. At thirteen, my team policy debate partner and I qualified to compete at the NCFCA regional tournament. At fourteen, my partner and I placed first in team policy at the Classical Conversations Speech and Debate tournament. Today I am seventeen and recently graduated high school a year early with a GPA of 3.91. I currently work two jobs and am excited to attend college in the fall.

I attribute a large part of my success to the fact that I spent so many years doing speech and debate. Not only did it teach me to master life skills like critical thinking, note taking, and public speaking, I also learned a lot about relationships. I made lifelong friends while in NCFCA with people who encouraged me to be the best version of myself and to set high standards. We shared our knowledge, encouraging and empowering each other to become more intelligent and successful individuals. 

I am so grateful to have had the educational opportunities that I have had in my life. I want to encourage all preteens and teens to pursue the world of competitive speech and debate. It is the perfect combination of excitement, experience, and education. And as such I believe it is an excellent way to foster the goal of true education that Dr. King described—to develop a balance of intelligence and character.


As the daughter of Andrew Pudewa, Ellie has naturally been involved in IEW since it came into existence. After working in production for over ten years, she can now be found honing her skills in the marketing department. A central California native, Ellie moved with her family to Oklahoma in 2010. Although not planning to pursue writing as a profession, she has loved it since she was a young girl. She recently graduated high school and plans to attend Paul Mitchell the School Tulsa in the fall to obtain a license in cosmetology, specializing in professional stage makeup. Ellie enjoys writing, makeup, animals, and adventures.

Live Chat with IEW