Chauncella Koulibali '22
Psychology major finds empowerment through speech and debate
Ten minutes. That's how long Chauncella Koulibali '22 has to use her words and emotions to make a compelling argument about an issue of her choice when she participates in speech events on the Whitworth forensics team. At the recent National Christian College Forensics Association tournament, the 10 minutes Koulibali spent reciting pieces of poetry she had combined about the challenges Black mothers face in America were enough to bring one of the judges to tears.
"Afterward, he told me and my fellow competitors that the ability we have to move people in this activity is a gift, and I've been thinking about that ever since," Koulibali says. "Just thinking that in 10 minutes I have the power to enlighten an audience about current events that affect our society, whether it's maternal mental health, the opioid crisis, or Black motherhood and police brutality, is incredibly cathartic."
Not only did Koulibali take first place in the poetry competition at the national tournament, but she also won the prose and programmed oral interpretation events and a pair of sweepstakes awards, making her the top overall competitor at the tournament (which the Arguing Bucs won). Earlier in the season, she became only the second Whitworth forensics student to win the Brent Northup Award as the best competitor in the Northwest Forensics Conference.
Her coach, Professor Mike Ingram, says her outstanding accomplishments this year are "akin to one of our basketball players being the top Northwest Conference scorer and top player, and being top-five All-American."