MEET THE TEAM
The people and coaches that make ACLA
Willie is currently a college instructor at CSU Fullerton and Irvine Valley College. He is a member of the coaching staff for Irvine Valley College’s national championship speech and debate team. He obtained his Communication B.A. from San Francisco State University and M.A. from CSU Fullerton. At CSUF, Willie developed a program that combined the collegiate discipline of Communication Studies with Speech and Debate and implemented this material at a local primary school in the Fullerton area. This program is the foundation of ACLA’s curriculum. It is his goal to see speech and debate activities spread and competent communication skills developed in young people everywhere.
Stephanie has been with the ACLA since 2017 when she was recruited by Coach Willie through the Honors College at CSU, Fullerton. She holds a BA in Liberal Studies, and has won numerous awards in Persuasive and Impromptu Speaking. She credits her experience with Speech and Debate for being the reason she’s does great in job interviews. Stephanie believes Speech and Debate teaches students to ask questions, not be afraid to speak up, and helps them find their voice in a way no other class or activity can. As Program Director, she helps the ACLA realize this potential in every student by maintaining communication between coaches, schools, and our director. She is an instrumental part of organizing and hosting every tournament, recruiting volunteers and new coaches, fundraising, and collaborates with coaches on different projects.
Director of Operations
Coach Asha has had the privilege to work with ACLA for the last year and a half. She came on board the team officially, after volunteering to sub for a class for a semester, fast forward a year and she really loves coaching and mentoring the students who are apart of ACLA. Asha has taught at multiple schools including Oak creek, Parkview, Columbus Tustin, etc. A lot of her teaching experience comes from having also competed in forensics in high school. However, it was not until college that she really began to hone her skills while competing on Irvine Valley College’s Speech and Debate team. It was through communication courses and competing at IVC that she decided to double major in Communication Studies and Psychology. She has multiple awards in Dramatic Interpretation, Cultural Artifact, Impromptu, Persuasion, Parliamentary Debate and IPDA debate. She was also selected to compete on the state and national teams for both years she was on the team and in 2017 received an award at the state championship tournament for top debate speaker for the state of California. Along with her motivation to continue her education in communication and psychology; She has also found a passion for teaching communication skills such as debate, interpretation and platform events to the students that she serves. Her main focus is helping students grow as competitors and excellent public speakers.
Coach Sana is a student at Cal State Fullerton majoring in Communications Studies. Her interest in communication led her to join her school’s Speech and Debate team. As an active member for over 2 years now, she is a National Champion in Informative Speaking, an award winning Parliamentary Debater, and was even honored by Irvine Valley College as their Most Outstanding Platform Speaker for 2018-19. She believes competing has helped boost her confidence and find her voice, and she loves passing on her knowledge to her students. Learning and growing are the most important part of any class, and Coach Sana teaches her students how to take their skills and develop them into amazing talents in Speech and Debate. She became involved with the ACLA in 2019, and currently coaches at many different schools in our organization. Sana also runs our Instagram account, check it out!
Coach Ian has been apart of the ACLA team since October 2019. He has found coaching very rewarding for him and loves to see his students develop into confident communicators. Ian previously attended Irvine Valley College, and plans to transfer to Cal State Fullerton for Business Administration. He became involved in speech and debate in high school and fell in love with it. He continued to compete on the Irvine Valley College debate team and received the 2019 Mark Elliot Coaches Award for his hard work and dedication. He values critical thinking and believed debate is the best place in education to develop this skill.
This is Lizeth’s first year as an official ACLA coach. Currently, she is attending UCLA as a Gender Studies Major and Public Affairs Minor. She transferred to UCLA from Mt.SAC, where she competed in the national champion Forensics team (Speech and Debate) for two years. Lizeth competed in platform, interp, debate, and limited prep. On the team, she won awards in several competitions in all categories. Most notably Lizeth and her team won 1st place overall in the national tournament and the California State tournament. She loves competing because it allows her to showcase everything forensics has taught her, from valuing her voice to advocating for marginalized communities. She sincerely believes that the future lies in the hands of young people. This is why she likes coaching because she believes it’s important to teach kids that they have a voice and that they can use it and be heard. In forensics you typically have 10 minutes to speak, but for those 10 minutes you have to be heard and that's very empowering.
Veronica is newly hired by ACLA but got involved during the spring of the previous school year. She graduated from Mt. San Antonio College with an associates in communications and am now attending UC Davis for a bachelors in communications and sociology (minor).
Veronica loves competing because she gets the chance to talk about something she is truly passionate about and have people listen and pay close attention to what she has to say. Through speech and debate she gets to bring awareness to some sensitive topics that people usually don’t speak on and serve as a voice for the community.Veronica has won multiple awards for her Dramatic Interp on mental health and got 4th place for my readers theatre on human trafficking. Coaching interests her because not only does she love forensics and the meaning behind each speech, but because it gives students a chance to be heard and represented. Veronica “wants to be able to give students a safe space to talk about something meaningful to them and guide them as much as my coaches guided and helped me.”
Ketaki first got involved with ACLA because Coach Washington was her Communications professor at IVC. She loved his class so much that she joined the debate team at IVC and even got to attend Nationals. This will be her very first year coaching for ACLA and very excited to work with everyone this year! Currently she is attending Cornell University as an Industrial and Labor Relations major. Ketaki loves Speech and Debate so much and found an amazing community of like-minded individuals during her time on the IVC debate team because everyone made her feel at home. Speech and Debate taught her a lot of valuable skills and made some of her favorite memories last year at tournaments!
Overall she’s won about 10 regional awards for NPDA, Exempt and Impromptu and got to compete at the Phi Rho Pi National tournament in 2019. It wasnt until college she had opportunities to compete so she is excited to help others find those opportunities. Ketaki states that “Speech and Debate as a program really helped me find my voice and I want to help others find theirs. I love what ACLA stands for as a program and I’m really excited to work with everyone!”
Coach Osirus has been involved with ACLA since Fall 2020, and heard about our programs from Coach Willie. Previously, he attended Mt. San Antonio College and graduated with an Associate’s in Journalism, Communication, and Political Science. Now, he is attending UC Berkeley majoring in Political Science with an emphasis on comparative politics, and is minoring in journalism and creative writing. Coach Osirus loves competing because he loves critically thinking about social issues and speaking about things that are important to him. Last year, he won the Carl Bovero award for top speaker of California at the community college level. In addition, he has won 3 national titles in Programmed Oral Interp, Duo Interp, and After Dinner Speaking. As far as coaching Osirus is excited to “teach people essential values in life such as advocacy, kindness, compassion, and humility. Speech and debate is one of those ways I can help instill those values to the next generation.”
Coach Noah has been involved with ACLA since the end of 2020. He competed with Coach Ian in Forensics and Mock Trial together in High School. Coaching for ACLA was the perfect opportunity for me because it aligned with my school schedule and covered an area that I am passionate about and empirically displayed talent in. Coach Noah completed several dual enrollment classes through Irvine Valley College. Currently, he is a freshman in Patrick Henry College’s Distance Learning program (Purcellville, Virginia). Ultimately, his goal is to major in Economics and pursue a career in law. He loves competing because it builds strong relationships. “At the root of being a strong communicator is the ability to defend your ideas while comprehending the reasoning behind alternative trains of thought.” Like many, through Speech and Debate, Coach Noah has created priceless friendships, connections, and advanced his knowledge and wisdom of the world. He has competed for 6 years in Speech and Debate, placing in the National Invitational Tournament Of Champions Hall of Fame for the Stoa 2019-2020 Season, participated in Lincoln-Douglas, Team Policy, Parliamentary, Public Forum, Civic Debate, IPDA, NPDA, Mock Trial, Moot Court, and was selected to be part of the International Worlds Schools Debate Team with American Logos. Additionally, he has placed in other countries, such as the Argo tournament in Romania and Slovenia International. We are so lucky to have Coach Noah on the team!
Coach Sarah became involved with the ACLA in 2018 after she was recruited by Coach Willie while competing for Irvine Valley College’s Speech and Debate team. As a competitor, she has multiple awards in Parliamentary Debate, IPDA Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu, and Informative Speaking. Among her accomplishments is an award for 1st place in Informative Speaking at the International Forensics Association tournament in Berlin, Germany and being honored by IVC as their Speaker of the Year for 2018-19. She holds an AA in Communications Studies from IVC, and is now completing her BA in Communications Studies at CSU, Long Beach. She loves to compete because it allows her to learn new things while having fun and getting to know new people. As a coach at Jeane Thorman Elementary, Woodbury Elementary, Stonegate Elementary, and Westpark Elementary she loves to see her students become more confident as they tackle complicated subjects and have a great time.
Coach Zihad became involved with ACLA when Willie shared this program that was geared towards teaching students the ins and out of speech and debate and how to become competent communicators. His first time coaching an ACLA class was 3 years ago and he loved it! Zihad previously attended Irvine Valley College and got an Associates Degree in Political Science and Communications, then graduated from UCLA where I got a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science.Willie then gave him the opportunity to come back and teach speech and debate on a much larger scale. He became involved in Speech and Debate over 4 years ago when Gary Rybold, the head of Communications at Irvine Valley College, recruited him to the team in the summer of 2015. His last tournament was Phi Rho Pi in 2017. Throughout his time in Speech and Debate, he won numerous awards including League, State, and National titles. He is currently studying for the LSAT in hopes that he will attend law school to study Criminal or Entertainment Law. He loves to compete because it was fun, educational, and loves winning. By coaching, he can pass on what he has learned to the next generation and provide the experience of a lifetime for everyone who is involved.
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