Forensics and Debate Awards

Forensics/Debate Awards

Donald Ritzenhein Award: Kiara Roumayah and Tatianna McKenzie

Ritzenhein was the 1965 recipient of the David A. Goldman Award for outstanding first year debater. In 1967, he was a finalist at the National Debate Tournament and a Quarterfinalist the following year. He has tirelessly rooted for the program and was crucial in finishing the George W. Ziegelmueller $1 million endowment goal. We have renamed the Goldman award in Don's honor based on his commitment and contribution to the program over the years. This award recognizes the top first year debate students of the year.

Raymond & Alice Hayes Award: Hasan Qureshi and Jake Kostecke

First awarded in 1977, this award recognizes the best second year students on the debate team. Raymond joined the team as a freshman in 1935 and by '37-38, he was one of the best debaters on the team. In 1938, he served as the coach of the freshman team.

Jane Greco Memorial Award: Mirabella Trestail

This award recognizes the most improved debater on the team. This award is given in tribute to Jane, who was the premier debate coach in Michigan at Royal Oak Kimball High School. Many Wayne students came from her program or were judged and instructed by her at summer institutes.

Richard Bernstein Award: Irshad Husain

Several years ago, prominent local attorney and WSU Board of Governor's member Richard Bernstein attended the WSU DSR-TKA Banquet and was so moved by the students and alumni stories that he established an award to recognize excellence in speech and debate. This award recognizes the team member who is considered the best overall debate teammate.

Alfonso Rodriquez Award: Darcell Brown

Alfonso was an earlier member of the team, obtaining both his bachelor's and master's degrees at Wayne State. He later went on to serve in the elite Office of Special Services (OSS) (the early CIA) during World War II and eventually became Director of Training in the CIA. Alfonso always spoke with fondness of his experiences as a debater and speaker at Wayne State. We give this award to recognize students who excel in academics despite the heavy workload of being a debate team member.

Angela Cowan Memorial Award: Megan Dombrowski

Angela walked onto the debate team in 1993 with no previous experience. She thought the activity would be good for her resume. She immediately became an integral member of the squad winning top speaker in the novice division at her very first tournament. During her tenure at Wayne State she maintained a near perfect grade point average, worked multiple internships including one at the White House, and continued to thrive in debate. Her senior year she reached the elimination rounds of the NDT. That same year she scored in the 98th percentile on the LSAT and earned acceptance into all 12 of the top law schools in the country. 

Angela asked George which school he thought she should attend and George said he thought it was better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. Angela pondered this advice and came back to George a few days later telling him, "I've decided to be a big fish in a big pond. I'm going to Harvard."

Tragically, just weeks before she was to leave for law school she passed away unexpectedly. We give this award to the student who best exemplifies Angela's spirit. Someone who we think, despite a lack of experience in the activity, will be a big fish in a big pond.

Paul Nine Award: Luke Bagdon and Brandon Reynold

Paul Nine was a highly successful debater for Wayne State and is a prominent local attorney and remains a substantial supporter of our program. He was on the second team that WSU qualified to the National Debate Tournament in 1961, the first to reach elimination rounds at the NDT and he was the 9th speaker in the nation. An award in his name is given to recognize the top overall debaters for the season.

Shawn McGee Kahle Award: Ethan Martin

Shawn is the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Assurant Inc. Prior to this Shawn has worked at a number of corporate and non-profit organizations in public relations, management and speech writing and consulting. Additionally, she has held more than 20 civic, non-profit and professional board posts. We recognize her outstanding work as a competitor, coach, and long supporter of the program by recognizing the top first year student performance.

Jack Kay Public Address Award: Colin Murtagh

Dr. Kay was an undergraduate competitor and later coach of both the speech and debate team. He later directed forensics at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In recent years, Dr. Kay held several high level administrative positions at Wayne State, Michigan-Flint and Eastern Michigan University. Sadly, Dr. Kay passed away in 2015. In recognition of Dr. Kay's work in public address and support of the program, we present an award for the best public address competitor.

Top Individual Events Award: Ethan Martin

Neil Mansharamani Award (Top Limited Prep Performance): Colin Murtagh