Phoenix scholar CARLOS O. became a champion debater while at Phoenix’s Brophy Preparatory Academy. He’s a superstar within the National Forensics League—the governing body of high school competitive speech and debate. His specialty is Congressional Debate, a particularly demanding style of debate modeled upon the rules and methods used in the United States Congress. “It’s a very formal style of debate,” Carlos says. “It’s based on mutual respect, and you maintain a very formal demeanor throughout the debate. It works just like Congress—you debate legislation, and you have to support your case.”
He’s one of the top five Congress-style debaters in the country. Over the last three years, he’s taken home over 40 awards, and recently competed in the Harvard National Congress, one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the country.
What leads a young person into this arena? Carlos says it wasn’t exactly planned.
“It kind of happened by accident,” he says. “I needed to take a summer school class before my freshman year of high school, and I saw a class called ‘Forensics’ on the schedule. I thought it was forensic pathology, and that sounded interesting, but when I got there, I saw that it had nothing to do with science.”
But if it was an accident, it was a fortunate one, because it gelled with one of Carlos’ long-time interests: politics. “I’ve always been a fan of politics,” he says. “I always followed it. Debate gives me the chance to do more than just read about it.”
One of five siblings, Carlos’ family struggled with many of the challenges facing first-generation American families, so he’s had good reason to be interested in politics, having experienced firsthand how policy affects people. His family valued education and worked hard to get Carlos into Brophy Prep, but an economic crisis threatened his future at the school. His mother reached out to Boys Hope Girls Hope and our Phoenix Affiliate’s Executive Director, Tami Bohannon found an “angel” donor who was willing to underwrite Carlos’scholarship to the program.
“I love it,” he says of Boys Hope Girls Hope. “What the program offers is incredible. It gives you a place to stay, amenities—all you have to do is to stay on track and be responsible. It’s the best deal anyone ever offered me.”