Madison Grady says participating in speech and debate at the college level has given her confidence, not just in public speaking but also to present her ideas to peers and professors.
Grady is a senior at Boise State and a member of the national championship Boise State Speech and Debate team. She’s been taking home awards this season including earning tournament champion in open public debate at a November tournament in Oregon. Grady graduated from Whitefish High School in 2014 and was a member of the high school speech and debate team.
It wasn’t until her sophomore year of college that Grady joined the Boise forensics team known as the Talkin’ Broncos. She became aware of the team when it hosted and won the national tourney her freshman year of school, and that prompted her to apply to join. She receives a scholarship for her participation and travels the country as the team competes.
“It’s a great program,” she said. “I was on the club soccer team at college, but I was so involved in everything in high school and then it felt like I was involved in nothing on campus. It’s opened up doors to meet people on the team.”
The Talkin’ Broncos last month earned first place at the Mahaffey Memorial Tournament in Oregon. It was their seventh consecutive win at the tournament, which featured more than 30 schools.
Grady went undefeated in preliminary rounds, emerging as top seed, and winning the final round of debate to become the tourney champion. She also received the Singletary Award, an honor that recognizes the top debater across the tournament’s multiple formats of debate. Grady also received the tournament’s first place speaker award in public debate.
Grady competes in both speech and debate events in multiple platforms, and has earned honors in both areas throughout her college career. She earned the Marshall Outstanding Speaker award in 2106 at the Northwest Forensics conference at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.
Grady took superior awards in both informative speaking and extemporaneous speaking in 2016 when the team won its fourth consecutive national championship on the Boise State campus with 72 schools from across the country competing in more than 20 different speech and debate events.
Depending on the area of competition, she may have her presentation prepared ahead of time or she may have a set amount of time to prepare during rounds of competition. The format forces her to stay up to date on current events, and also allows her to learn about new topics.
“My favorite part of the activity is that the speech can be geared to a topic that you’re interested in,” she said. “When you select a speech topic it’s easy to be passionate about it.”
Grady is majoring in political science and communications. She says speech and debate has helped her in the classroom.
“When I’m studying current events sometimes I get more out of it than I do in classes because you have to learn so much on one topic to prepare for debate or speech,” she said.
Grady also works as a special assistant to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter. She is set to graduate in the spring. She is planning to take some time off hoping to work as a foreign service officer in an U.S. embassy before heading to graduate school to earn a masters in public policy. Her goal is to work in some capacity in politics in public policy.
No matter where she ends up, she says forensics has helped her along the way.
“Speech and debate has been a great experience for me,” she said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of different kids and gotten to be more involved. There’s also skills that you learn that you don’t in the classroom and those transfer to the real world.”