Alumni Spotlight: Savdharia Sisters

From winning first place at multiple debate tournaments, qualifying for prestigious tournaments, and being team captains for over 6 years, to interning at USC and Boeing, solving equity in debate, and enrolling at USC on a Biochemistry track, twins Harishri and Hitakshi Savdharia truly represent the best of debate and the spirit of OCDL.

Their debate journey first started at a New England Academy summer camp during their fifth grade year. After pursuing debate through NEA during their 5th and 6th grade years, they started competing for their school debate team at Fairmont North Tustin. What started as a want to gain public speaking, critical thinking, and team-work skills ended in success for the twins. During their middle school years, Harishri and Hitakshi broke numerous records in the league. Hitakshi won the coveted Hopkins gavel, the equivalent of first place speaker, and best overall debater. She also had a record of 17 wins to 1 loss her 8th grade year, as well as an 87-point average. Harishri broke the record for the highest speaker score in OCDL history, a 95, and won second and third place speaker. During these middle school years, not only did the twins debate together, but they also were team captains of Fairmont North Tustin’s team. To top it off, they represented their school at the Middle School Tournament of Champions in Kentucky where they won first place. 

Harishri’s and Hitakshi’s success continued throughout high school as well. They qualified for quarter-finals at the renowned Berkley tournament during their sophomore year, semi-finals at Apple Valley, finals at La Costa, and double-octofinals at Stanford, ASU, and UNLV. They continued to be team captains throughout high school for Fairmont Prep and also started an initiative to engage women in the skill of debate called beyond resolved. Hitakshi was Secretary of the Board of Directors and Harishri was President. Through these efforts, they tried increasing equity in debate and increasing the number of women in an often male-dominated sport. 

Along with debate, they both displayed strong academic rigor through the completion of the International Baccalaureate program. In their free time, they love to dance. Some of the styles the Savdharia sisters practiced were Bharatnatyam, Bollywood, Latin Ballroom, and Hip-hop. Throughout high school they remained good contributors to society and even accumulated over 430 service hours each. Outside of debate, they both participated in ASB and the Red Cross Club at their school.

The Savdharia twins attribute their success in their various projects and accomplishments to the skills that they acquired through years of participation in debate. They have also been active in the community they live in, and they are devoted to changing our world for the better through their internships, initiatives, and service. They prompt other debaters to work hard at all their goals and encourage everyone to participate in debate!

Alumni Spotlight: Dean Alamy

In our latest installment of the Alumni Spotlight, we feature high school senior Dean Alamy. Dean has been an exceptional member of our debate community for seven years. He participated in the Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP) for three years and in Public Forum for four years. Throughout these years, he has exemplified his talent in the art of debate and was even ranked as the #1 Public Forum Debater in California by the National Speech and Debate Association this year. Dean explains, “Throughout high school, I have been heavily involved in speech and debate, which all started through my involvement in the OCDL as a middle-schooler.” Throughout his years in OCDL, he was co-captain of the Fairmont Prep Debate Team. Since then, he has successfully competed at various public forum tournaments, including being invited to the prestigious Berkeley Invitational. He has stayed connected with his debate alma mater, OCDL, by coaching the Brookhurst debate team, which competes in the League.

Dean explains that debate has helped him immensely even out of the classroom. He said he has “found that [his] experiences with debate and the skills [he has] picked up along the way have been integral to [his] success in and out of the classroom. Even though [his] studies focus on STEM, [he] finds that debate and the ability to speak publicly have helped allow [him] to flourish and become a more confident person.” Dean will be attending Stanford University next year as a part of the class of 2025. At Stanford, Dean plans to study bioengineering. Dean wants to relay onto other debaters that “the community I have built and relationships I’ve been able to form have created a home for me–I’ve noticed that the majority of my close friends were once opponents in a debate round.”