Texas Star Great Debate commences at OLLU in San Antonio
More than 100 students from throughout Texas, New Mexico, and California — with a particularly strong showing from South Texas — have come together at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio for the 2017 Texas Star Great Debate.
The program, originally created for top Latino students in rural communities, includes students from major metro areas like Austin, El Paso, Houston, and of course, the host city of San Antonio.
Unlike the Texas Great Debate, which ended this past Sunday, students don’t spend weeks preparing for the competition on teams with coaches. Rather, they try out in a “combine” to showcase their skills — happening later today — and then will be selected for teams by college students and NHI Alumni serving as head coaches for the program.
“It’s great to see how many leaders we have among us,” said Dr. Ezequiel Pena, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs-Global & Strategic Initiatives at Our Lady of the Lake University, representing the host university at Opening Ceremonies yesterday. “You’re part of a very select group of people. I’ve had the privilege of meeting many alumni from NHI, and I can tell you . . . you are among the movers and shakers of the Latino community.
Noah Castillo-West, an Austin student at his first-ever NHI program, recognized the opportunity the program gave him. He said, “I expect to learn, to gain more confidence, and work on my leadership skills for my community.”
Juliana Vargas, part of a contingent of new NHI participants from Converse, Texas, noted, “I thought it was a really great opportunity to connect and communicate with people.” She also saw the potential to become a better person overall.
The Great Debate is typically the first program an NHI student will attend. But one participant, Mathis’ Nicholas Crezo, attended NHI’s debut pilot program for students between 8th and 9th grades at Mathis High School last year, and brings that experience to the Texas Star Great Debate.
“My 8th grade experience hooked me,” he said. His expectations for the week included camaraderie — or as he put it, “I expect to know everyone” — and to develop his communication skills.
The program, made possible in part by sponsorship from State Farm, Union Pacific, and Winston & Strawn LLP, will culminate with final debates and awards on Saturday.