Student Life



Debate affords interested students an opportunity to learn the rudiments of persuasive speech while acquiring an in-depth knowledge of national affairs. ND debaters participate in tournaments on weekends, competing against schools from throughout the United States. Debaters combine after school practices on speaking and argumentative strategy with individual research, all of which bolster a sense of personal achievement and team camaraderie.

Students can get involved in many different levels of debate. All students start as novices and move to varsity in their second year of debate. 
To start on the debate team, one should enroll in the Introduction to Debate course. This basic argumentation course teaches students the basics of policy debate. Students then get hands-on opportunities to practice their public speaking and critical thinking skills. This practice is then put to the test at competitions. For more information, see the course catalogue here.

For more information, read the FAQ and/or email Ms. Christina Tallungan, the Director of Debate, at

News from Debate

In February 2019, the team competed at the Golden Desert Tournament at UNLV and the Cal Berkeley Debate Tournament. At Cal Berkeley, Patricia Suico and Nick DiFilippo placed in the Double Octofinals out of 200 policy teams from around the country. Several younger teams also competed at both Golden Desert and Cal Berkeley developing their skills for future competitive excellence.

The team also competed in and hosted the Reagan Western Qualifier Great Communicator Debate Tournament. There were approximately 40 competitors from the Western region competing to attend the National Championship competition at the Reagan Library in July. Notre Dame will be recognized at this National Championship as a partner with the Reagan Library Education Foundation.

Lastly, the team is still competing in the International Public Policy Forum (IPPF), currently placed in the Sweet 16 out of over 200 teams from around the world. The team will find out in March if they will advance to the Elite Eight. Should the team make it to that level, they will win a trip to New York for three students and two chaperones/coaches to compete in oral arguments at the Council of Foreign Relations Pratt House.

Also, parents and alum note that we will have the annual Debate Awards on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at Notre Dame. Please email Christina Phillips, for more details. Go Knights!

Current Team Officers

  • 2018-2019 Senior Team Leaders - Evie Chokler and Patricia Suico
  • 2018-2019 IPPF Team Captain – TBA
  • 2018-2019 Team Historians – Nick DiFillipo and Nikhil Navare
  • 2018-2019 Assistants – Jack Daggenhurst and YeJun Kwon
  • 2018-2019 Student Tournament Director – Simon Callaghan and Michelle Mar

Past Team Officers

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  • Team Captains/Senior Leaders

    • 2017-2018 - Lawrence Kim, Elliot McMillan, Mason Peeples
    • 2016-2017 - Jax Rounds, Mikaela Appleby, Greg Santos
    • 2015-2016 - Jack Carty, June Choe, Ella Fisher, Dorothy Kim, Ryan Powell, Jack Schooley, Simone Schwartz- Lombard
    • 2014-2015 - Harry Aaronson, Mikayla Rae Garvin, Rachel Kovinsky, Vivienne Pismarov
    • 2013-2014 - Aron Berger, Max Lubell, Connor Smith, Rory Smith
    • 2012-2013 - Monique Candiff, Ken DeJohn, Roman Kezios
    • 2011-2012 - Cristina Cambianica/Wes Shoup
    • 2010-2011 - Morgan Titcher
    • 2009-2010 - Morgan Titcher 
  • IPPF Team Captain

    • 2017-2018 - Lawrence Kim
    • 2016-2017 - Greg Santos
    • 2015-2016 - Jack Schooley
    • 2014-2015 - Rachel Kovinsky
    • 2013-2014 - Rory Smith/Connor Smith
    • 2012-2013 - Monique Candiff
    • 2011-2012 - Cristina Cambianica
    • 2010-2011 - Cristina Cambianica/Brendan Leonard
    • 2009-2010 - Andrea Boutros 
  • Assistant

    • 2017-2018 - Martina Povolo
    • 2016-2017Elliot McMillan
    • 2015-2016 - Mikaela Appleby 
    • 2014-2015 - Ella Fisher
    • 2013-2014 - Vivienne Pismarov
    • 2012-2013 - Aron Berger
    • 2011-2012 - Roman Kezios
    • 2010-2011 - Andrew McLoon
    • 2009-2010 - Andrew McLoon
  • Historian

    • 2017-2018 - Patricia Suico, Nick DiFillipo
    • 2016-2017 - Martina Povolo, Patricia Suico
    • 2015-2016 - Mason Peeples, Priya Joshi 
    • 2014-2015 - June Choe, Jax Rounds
    • 2013-2014 - June Choe, Ella Fisher
    • 2012-2013 - Mikayla Rae Garvin, Max Lubell
    • 2011-2012 - Monique Candiff
    • 2010-2011 - Cristina Cambianica
    • 2009-2010 - Chris Ceron
  • Student Tournament Director

    • 2017-2018 - Mason Peeples
    • 2016-2017 - Mikaela Appleby
    • 2015-2016 - Nicolle Pismarov
    • 2014-2015 - Mikayla Rae Garvin
    • 2013-2014 - Mikayla Rae Garvin, Alexa Gris 
    • 2012-2013 - Maggie Barran, Daniella Mikhael-Fard
    • 2011-2012 - Richard Barran/Ryan Nelson
    • 2010-2011 - Cameron Rankin/Emily Fuller

Alumni Updates

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  • Class of 2018

    • Morgan Bourke - Colorado State University
    • Chris Dickens - Working on U.S. Congressional campaign for Omar Qudrat
    • Noah Healy - University of Colorado, Boulder
    • Lawrence Kim - California Polytechnic State University, Pomona
    • Elliot McMillan - American University
    • Mason Peeples - American University
    • Malone Urfalian - Loyola University Chicago
  • Class of 2017

    • Mikaela Appleby - George Washington University 
    • Eric Kalajyan - Iowa State University
    • Jax Rounds - Western Washington University
    • Greg Santos - UC Merced 
  • Class of 2016

    • June Choe (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL)
    • John Dimitri (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN)
    • Ella Fisher (Reed College, Portland, OR)
    • Nicolle Pismarov (Sonoma, Sonoma, CA)
    • Ryan Powell (Cal Poly San Luis Obsipo, San Luis Obispo, CA)
    • Jack Schooley (University of Montana, Missoula, MT)
    • Simone Schwartz-Lombard (University of Washington, Seattle, WA)
  • Class of 2015

    • Harry Aaronson (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN)
    • Mikayla Rae Garvin (University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT)
    • Rachel Kovinsky (UC, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA)
    • Vivienne Pismarov (University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA)
    • Nate Sarabia (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA)
  • Class of 2014

    • Aron Berger (USC, Los Angeles, CA) 
    • Alexa Gris (University of Portland, Portland, OR)
    • Daniella Mikhael-Fard (UC, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA)
    • Max Lubell (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI)
    • Noella Park (UC, Riverside, Riverside, CA)
    • Jaclyn Sandoval (UC, Merced, Merced, CA)
    • Connor Smith (UC, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA)
    • Rory Smith (UC, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA)
  • Class of 2013

    • Monique Candiff (Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA)
    • Ken DeJohn (Pace University, New York, NY)
    • Roman Kezios (Baylor University Graduate School, Waco, TX)
    • Sebastian Wells (Brandeis University, Waltham, MA)
  • Class of 2012

    • Cristina Cambianica (Reed College, Portland, OR)
    • Richard Cardenas (UC, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA)
    • Joseph Dalla Betta (Tufts University, Medford, MA)
    • Emma Muir (Wooster College, Wooster, OH)
    • Ryan Nelson (UC, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA)
    • Dara Parsi (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN) 
    • Christopher Wes Shoup (UC, San Diego, San Diego, CA)
  • Class of 2011

    • Jacob DeFilippis (UC, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA)
    • Marian Nathan Grau (Masters programs at Columbia University and the London School of Economics, Graduate Student at Harvard University)
    • Brendan Leonard (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL)
    • Andrew McLoon (UC, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA)
    • Jacob Nasser (Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA)
    • Tony Peterson (Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA)
    • Cameron Rankin (UC, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA)
    • Summer Wall (Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA)
    • Russell Whitman (University of San Diego, San Diego, CA)
  • Class of 2010

    • Andrea Boutros (UC, Los Angeles, Westwood, CA)
    • Christopher Ceron (UC, Riverside, Riverside, CA)
    • Christopher Older (UC, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA)
    • George Paguio (Pomona, Pomona, CA)
  • Class of 2008

    • Cecilia Bonaduce (UC, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA)
    • Dayne Crist (CSUN, Northridge, CA)
  • Class of 1995

    • Christina Tallungan (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA/CSUN, Northridge, CA) 
  • Class of 1983

    • David P. Damus, Esq. (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA/Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN)

Debate FAQs

List of 5 items.

  • Can I take Introduction to Debate and do a sport?

    Yes – there is often a misconception that as soon as you join the debate team you have to give up all other activities. It does require good time management skills, but there are several students that balance debate and 1 sport, sometimes 2. 
  • How much time a week will I have to devote to debate if I take the class?

    You are required to attend 2 tournaments a semester, which means approximately 2 weekends a semester. You are also required to help at any Notre Dame Debate Tournaments held at the Notre Dame campus. These dates change from year to year. 
  • Do I have to pay for the debate tournaments?

    The school does help fund travel and transportation for the team; however, there is usually a fee for tournaments that can range from $25-$500 depending on the travel required for the tournament. Additionally, students do have to cover their own food expenses at any debate tournament. There are some fundraising events throughout the year that can help you defray the costs of paying for the tournaments. 
  • Does debate interfere with rigorous academic schedules?

    Not necessarily - the answer to this question depends on the individual student. There are many students at Notre Dame that balance very rigorous academic schedules, including AP courses, with debate. It is easy to balance your schedule with the Introduction to Debate course, but it requires learning to balance and discipline yourself. 

    Additionally, ALL students who have been in debate even for one year have said the course greatly improved their confidence and skill level in public speaking, critical thinking, and research. They felt that after taking Introduction to Debate and going to a couple tournaments they were more prepared than many of their peers to complete research papers and make presentations in class. 
  • Will I get to travel as a novice?

    There are a couple travel opportunities during one’s novice year. It depends on your work efforts and skill level. Before each tournament, the Director of Debate makes these determinations.


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