Debate en Español Season Reflection: Ingri Ramirez

Ingri Ramirez Portrait


As the Debate en Español (DEE) season comes to an end, one judge reflects on how the program impacts each and every person involved in the tournament – not just the students. 

Ingri judging

Photo Credit: Marina Que Photography

Ingri, a recent Augsburg University graduate, knew about the MNUDL years before she became a volunteer. She heard about judging from a friend, but was unable to find the time. Now, even though she stays busy as a graduate student in Public Health at the University of Minnesota, she decided to give it a try after seeing our advertisements again and says, “If I could go back, I would have started judging in undergrad and stuck with it.”

Debate Builds Everyday Skills

Ingri’s connection to our work is natural, as someone who has experience working with students. She is also a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Volunteering with debate gave her a different way to reach youth, and she’s consistently been impressed with what she sees.

Although they’re just kids, I’m just impressed by how they’re able to resolve conflicts that come up during the debate and play their role as debaters regardless of their differences.” Ingri also loves to see students have in-depth deliberation about big, important topics, like the Cuban Embargo, adding, “I also like how the debate isn’t biased and they have to defend each side of the topic.

These are significant life skills that Ingri sees as applicable to everyday life, because,

“Everyone just does debate in their life. Whether it’s in a work environment or school or family. There’s always going to be conflict or scenarios to address.”  

Improvement Through Feedback

Ingri has also seen, over the course of the season, how debate tournaments provide students with positive mentorship experiences that encourage them to take accountability for their performance and engage in an iterative process of feedback.

“Just from the beginning of the season and now judging them recently…I have noticed how students have been progressing in their tournaments speeches and understanding of the topic,” she explains.

This makes judging even more fulfilling because, “They’re taking the accountability and they’re taking our feedback to heart. They are taking the time outside tournaments to practice because they want to get better.” Accepting and utilizing feedback is an area of social and emotional learning that our coaches intentionally work on facilitating for students – and we’re glad to see it’s paying off!

Why Debate en Español Matters

To Ingri, watching students take pride in their performance is especially meaningful in the Debate en Español program.

“It’s really good to have clubs where it’s mostly native Spanish speakers, where students can use their first, primary tongue.” Ingri explains that for many Spanish-speaking students, there aren’t extracurricular activities where the majority of people speak their language and it feels good to have the roles reversed, in a way, when students who are just learning Spanish join. “It’s a different perspective,” she says, “Spanish speaking students go to primarily English classes, whereas in Debate en Español, it’s kind of the other way around. This club is mostly Spanish-speaking. You do see students whose primary language is English, but they’re trying to learn Spanish. You get that sense of a different environment where it’s the other way around, but it’s still very supportive.”

Ingri is inspired by the universal enthusiasm debaters show, regardless of their skill level.

“I really haven’t been at a tournament where students aren’t doing their best to speak Spanish – even if it’s broken Spanish or just the Spanish they’re comfortable with.”

Having a Bad Day? Give Back

Ingri wishes every student had access to debate, including her younger self, “I wish I could have done debate in high school,” she shares, especially, “Being able to have debate in Spanish would have been very meaningful…It’s something that I wish I had when I grew up. I was always very isolated in high school.” Eventually, she found her identity and community in college, but she’s grateful she can help students like her as she continues her education.

“Being able to give back to the community, and having kids enjoying doing debate in Spanish, is usually the highlight of my day or even week. When I have a bad day, I know I’m gonna go to the tournament later that day or week, and I know as long as they all have fun and we all have fun, we’ll make it better.”

Thanks for all your hard work this season, Ingri! We know you made a difference for our students and we look forward to seeing you at future tournaments

Are you interested in getting involved with our next Spanish Debate season? Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Johan Fullard, at for more information!