Welcome to the Team, Skye!

Skye Spindler Selfie

We are excited to welcome Skye Spindler as our newest MNUDL staff member! Skye is joining us as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. VISTAs build capacity for nonprofits through work in outreach, community engagement, communication, grant writing, and more. It’s the first year we’ve had a VISTA since 2017, and Skye’s role was made possible through a grant from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Her work will focus primarily on building capacity for our immigrant-focused Spanish Debate League and East African Debate programs. Skye is not new to the Minnesota debate community, having competed and served as a coach in the area However, she is new to the MNUDL. Welcome to the team, Skye!

Learn more about Skye and her motivation for working with us below.

Tell us more about your experience in debate.

I found out that my high school had a speech and debate team half way through the season when I was a sophomore and joined that same day. I was told who Immanuel Kant was, instructed to write down some thoughts about either side of the current topic, and before I knew it, I was participating in my first tournament for Lincoln-Douglas debate. I really enjoyed the part where people listened to me talk about my opinions for minutes on end, so I finished the season.

When my family moved before my junior year, and then again the following year, I also joined the speech and debate teams at each of my new high schools. By the time I graduated high school, I had participated in every form of debate then available, except one: policy debate.

Policy debate was really fast and I heard everything ends in nuclear war. I told the Director of Debate at Concordia College in Moorhead, Dr. Fred Sternhagen. He gave me no assurances that my impressions were not the case, and I can’t remember the story he told me to assuage my fears, but it must have worked, because I debated all four years of my time as a Cobber. Having begun with so few debate rounds so as to still be considered a novice, I am proud and grateful to have qualified and participated in the 2019 National Debate Tournament.

Skye traveling

Skye travels at a tournament in Nebraska with the Cobbers team.

In the two years since graduating from Concordia, I have coached and judged at both the high school and collegiate levels for several different schools, including the local programs at Edina High School and the University of Minnesota.

It has been a wonderfully challenging first decade in debate. To say I am excited to continue my contributions as the Community Debate Liaison would be an understatement.

What made you interested in doing the AmeriCorps VISTA program?

I have been contemplating spending a year in service with Americorps VISTA since before I completed my undergraduate degree. It had been suggested to me by my advisor at Concordia whose own daughter completed the program. I appreciated the opportunity for service and community oriented work experience, but I did not find a host site that was the right fit at the right time until reading about the Community Debate Liaison position at the MNUDL this spring.

In the past year since moving to Minneapolis, I have been continually inspired by the passion and dedication of the Minnesota debate community to keep our activity alive, accessible, and in some capacities, thriving. The MNUDL was a central component of my impressions, and I don’t think the local community would be here without it. I think the real question is: why wouldn’t I be interested in working with the MNUDL? I don’t think I have ever accepted a job offer so quickly.

What are your hopes for your year of service?

My experiences in debate have never failed to challenge, change, and educate me. I expect no less of the next year. My only hope is to meaningfully contribute to programs that will provide opportunities for future students to be similarly impacted by the activity I cherish and admire.