Shrewd persuasiveness, incisive interpretation, and keen critical thinking helped California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) Toro Forensics Team achieve two top honors during the 2016 Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association Cool-Off Tournament on April 23-24 at Saddleback College.
More than 150 students from 25 colleges across California and Arizona competed in the conference, including such regional campuses as CSU Long Beach, CSU Northridge, and Biola University.
“The Saddleback College Forensics tournament is one of many over the last decade where our Toros have earned top public speaking and acting awards,” said Donis Leonard, professor of theatre and speech, and director of the Toro Forensics Team.
Our team achievement at this tournament demonstrates once again that we have some of brightest and most gifted students anywhere in the state of California. I couldn’t be more proud of this hard working and talented group!”
Kattye Soares, a dance major, took 1st Place at the conference in poetry interpretation. The judges noted her “unique creativity and imagination,” according to Leonard. Arnaud Lukombo, political science major, also nabbed 1st Place, but in persuasive speaking. Leonard said that Lukombo has a “special gift,” and that it requires “tremendous oral communication and critical thinking” to win at the conference.
The other Toro winners at the conference were Alondra Carranco, criminal justice major, who achieved 2nd Place in persuasive speaking, and Vince Richmond, theatre arts major, who won 4th Place in the poetry interpretation category.
The association’s “Cool-Off” is unique compared to its other collegiate tournaments because it is only open to “novices and rookies,” enabling students with little or no competition experience to compete with those at their level.
“It was exciting when I found out I had won,” said Soares. “They may have said my name wrong, but it was still great to know that I had accomplished this, and that other members of the forensics team won as well.”
The poetry that Soares (pronounced Sars) interpreted at the conference was taken from the acclaimed Broadway musical “Runaways,” by Elizabeth Swados, which is about the lives of children who ran away from home to live on city streets.
Soares began rehearsing her interpretation of several poems she selected from the musical with Leonard approximately two months before the competition.
“Donis was a wonderful coach through all this. He was the one who helped me choose ‘Runaways,’ and got me through the whole process,” said Soares. “He provided me different sections of the musical, and I found poems within them to interpret. I went through each child in the play. Professor Leonard is a master at this. We would have one-on-one rehearsals, during which he would help me go through the pieces.”