From CDL debater to college freshman – starting strong

We’ve been checking in on our outstanding 2011 graduates to find out how they’re doing as freshmen at colleges throughout the country. We’ll feature one or two responses in each issue of the Chronicle this year. Let’s hear this month from two of our alums, with their early success stories.

(Are you a CDL alum and college freshman who wants to be featured here? Drop us a note at

“Debate made me academically prepared for my college work load. UIUC is a school where grades are a huge factor in who you are and what you can be on campus. Debate helped me with this because I study more and I’m able to read more documents in a small time period and understand what I read. Socially, debate always helped me to project my voice and get my thoughts across efficiently. Debate prepared me for the classes that I take in my major. I’m not afraid to speak or discuss my thoughts on a subject. Debate gave me the courage and knowledge to understand that what matters is how you accept the ideas of others and process those ideas into your everyday life.

College has been a positive journey so far because I am staying on top of my work and remaining focused on the task at hand – an education. Without debate, I wouldn’t be where I am today and my college experience would be extremely different. Debate has been a major tool in my life that has helped me become a better student and a much better Shanisha.”

Shanisha Tilliman, Prosser alum and University of Illinois Communications major

“Debate certainly has helped prepare me for college. It introduced me to critical academic theories and writers, many of whom we are now discussing in my classes. It also taught me how to manage my time and do targeted research using specific scholarly databases. Debate also helped me articulate my ideas in a concise and persuasive manner.”

Ola Topczewska, Payton alum and Harvard Government major