CDL Spotlight: Monica Avina

Monica Avina debated in the CDL for three years at Kelly High School where she graduated in 2002. She attended Northern Illinois University for her undergraduate education and is now finishing up her Master’s degree at DePaul University. She also works at an Immigration law firm in Chicago, where she helps the immigrant community to be able to reside permanently or temporarily in the United States.

She recently recalled the highlights in her career as a CDL debater. “Two highlights would be that my partner and I won the very first tournament championship for our school. That moment was a huge accomplishment not only for my partner and me but for our entire team. The second highlight would be winning third place speaker at my very last competition at the city championship in 2002–that was also an important individual achievement,” Monica explained.

Monica credits her debate coach for providing valuable encouragement. “Mr. Scott Dodsworth, who was not only my coach, but my teacher and mentor, was an excellent individual. He was a mentor to all of us. He dedicated so much of his time to provide us with the skills needed to be competitive debaters. He made every win and loss worthwhile. Because of him we were all really a debate family at Kelly. He encouraged us to help and learn from each other.”

We asked Monica if participating in the CDL helped prepare her for college at NIU. She replied positively “The CDL made me a better student and provided me with skills that I otherwise would not have obtained before I started college. It sharpened my critical thinking skills, speaking and listening skills–everything. It broadened my horizons and helped make me become much more confident, competitive and dedicated.. It gave me the extra leverage I needed to meet or exceed the level of other college students.”

She continued, explaining how the attributes she acquired from debating in high school still carry over to her graduate work at DePaul. “I still carry the skills it provided me with years ago and I still use them and, when necessary, sharpen them every day. This is one of the experiences that has made me who I am and aided me to meet some of the goals I’ve established for myself. Debate provided me with the seed, now in my graduate school career I continue to reap the benefits of that experience,” she said.

Monica concluded with this reflection on the value of competitive academic debate in her life. “Debate literally filled in a blank–it gave me something to look forward to. I was given the opportunity to improve myself and see the results at every tournament. It was like an extended family, I was surrounded by such good energy of people eager to learn and grow together intellectually. Debate has been a very important milestone in my life. It helped me in so many ways. It sharpened my critical thinking and speaking skills but it also provided me with a lot of discipline and motivation.”

The CDC congratulates Monica in her impressive academic and vocational accomplishments and wishes her the best in her career and in her life.