This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking to one of Orange County Debate League’s Alumni, Shreya Chitoori.  Shreya just graduated from Sage Hill High School and is currently a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is studying Molecular and Cellular Biology on the Pre-Med track. 

She started competing in OCDL during her seventh grade year and continued into her eighth as well. Over the course of the two years, she developed skills in public speaking and debate and earned six speaker awards and seven team awards in OCDL tournaments. In her 8th grade, she traveled to New Orleans with the OCDL and placed as 4th speaker. 

When asked why her passion for debate started, she responded, “OCDL got me out of my comfort zone. The format of POI’s helped me think on my feet and also elevated my general knowledge. I really like how helpful everyone is. [The] OCDL is a tight-knit community that helps each other.” 

In high school, Shreya helped OCDL’s board run tabulations during tournaments. She also started exploring new formats of debate. She found that she liked the World Schools debate format, which is a format that combines prepared topics with impromptu topics. Through this format, she earned over 25 speaker awards over four years and also won second place team at the highly reputable Harvard Westlake tournament. 

Shreya’s biggest achievement in debate was being the director of competition at her high school where she organized the first ever international tournament hosted by Sage Hill. 

When asked if she was always a public speaker, Shreya responded, “Definitely not. Actually, I was very shy before I joined OCDL. Debate really shaped my personality, and I really think everyone should join debate regardless if they are shy or not. They will just fall in love with it. OCDL really is a stepping stool for success in high school and even college. It really opened many doors for me, and I don’t think I would be the same without the skills I learned in the league.” She now is part of the debate club at Berkeley.

Outside of debate, she loves to golf and play piano, and she is also now a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority at Berkeley. Her biggest recommendation to all OCDL debaters and students is to “[j]ust do debate. Period. I promise you, you will love the sport, as well as the community, and the friends you make and the skills you learn will be carried on with you even after OCDL.”

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