Come Together

Photo credit: Armand Langston Hayes Photography

Over and over, the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the need for strong leadership: leaders with critical thinking skills, creative problem solving, and persuasive power. As every sector is tested by unforeseen challenges, our eyes are on people in power to make informed decisions.

What gives us hope is knowing that the next generation is tapping into their leadership capabilities already – and making change on their campuses, in their communities, and beyond. When the next crisis comes, we have faith that they’ll use their skills and strength in the service of the greater good.

To celebrate 2020’s National Student Leadership Week, we’re highlighting 5 ways MNUDL debaters have given us hope by putting their leadership into action.

Spanish Debate Spotlight: Shelley Pacheco

Anwatin Team

Shelley Pacheco Brought Spanish Debate to a New School.

Current Augsburg University student Shelley Pacheco fell in love with debate while competing in the Spanish Debate League at Anwatin Middle School. “Debate was a hobby for me to express who I am. I also love arguing with people, and learning the different topics. It’s also a way to get to know other people and have more connections,” Shelley says.

By the time Shelley was attending her first year of high school, only a national topic policy team was available at Edison. That didn’t dissuade Shelley, who persisted in dreaming up a new debate team.

Read more about how she did it here.

MNUDL Students Named In “9 Most Inspiring Twin Cities Teens” List

Isra and Ridwan

They Use Debate Skills for Good.

Isra Hirsi of South High School and Ridwan Mohamed of Patrick Henry High School, were recognized as student leaders by Citypages as two of the 9 Most Inspiring Teens in the Twin Cities! We are proud of the work that Isra is doing for the Youth Climate Strike and of Ridwan for her political aspirations – and excited to see a broader audience recognize them for their talent, drive, and courage!


Washburn High School Debaters Go National to Fight Gun Violence

Photo credit to Solvejg Wastvedt | MPR News

They Marched For Safe Schools.

Gun violence in the schools has devastated students and families, but the resulting student-led protests have given us hope. In 2018, the students of March For Our Lives established their own place in history by refusing to accept gun violence in schools. We’re proud that Twin Cities students are showing solidarity with students across the nation calling for safer schools – including fellow debaters at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Meet Maya and Isabel, two Washburn High School debaters who stepped up to speak out for safe schools. Here’s what they learn from their experience with gun safety advocacy.

Read more about what advocacy taught them here.

High School Competitors Coach the Next Generation of Debaters

Keewaydin Team

They Make a Difference for Middle School Debaters.

In our middle school debate programming, current high school debaters assist at teams across Minneapolis & St. Paul. These middle school mentors set stellar examples of leadership by teaching debate skills, using their deep knowledge of the topic, and encouraging students through their first tournaments. They’ve got a full slate of responsibilities as high school debaters, but they still make the time to work with middle school teams!

Middle school mentors also serve as a familiar face when middle school students transition into high school teams. They’re an integral part of our cycle of programming.

Read more about what our coaches learned from younger debaters.  And as a bonus, check out this year’s Middle School Student Coach of the Year Winner! 

MDAW Alum Returns With An Unexpected Gift

St Olaf Debate

College Debaters Went the Extra Mile for MDAW.

Matthew Erickson attended MDAW, our policy debate summer camp, as a freshman in high school. He’s gone on to graduate from Eagan High School and attend St. Olaf College, where he was president of the parliamentary debate team. We didn’t expect to see Matthew back at MDAW, much less with a generous gift! St. Olaf’s parliamentary debate team members generously raised $2,000 for our programming, surprising us with an amazing gift to start off the next season on the right foot! We remember Matthew’s generosity fondly as we continue to our next year of MDAW – adapted to changing times, now all-online.

Read why Matthew picked MNUDL as his cause.

Inspired by these debaters? Empower more students and help us raise $25,000 by our fundraising deadline, May 31st. Make a gift today.