Debate team serves as saving grace for student

Shea Adair was lost.

Not literally. She was standing on the second floor of the Music Building, but figuratively she had absolutely no idea what she was going to do with her life.

This third year EC student was contemplating what to do with her future. Adair was undeclared on her major out of high school and switched her major three times during her time at EC before deciding on communications.

Adair always had a passion for helping others; however, she was unsure of the exact way she would do so. Adair initially had been on the path to become a special needs teacher before finding her voice projecting from the podium.

After taking an argumentation and debate class, Adair was recruited by communications professor Francesca Bishop to join the debate team. After a bit of hesitation and deep thought, Adair decided to give it an attempt, and that was the beginning of a vital chapter of her life.

“Debate will change your life,” Adair recalled Professor Bishop telling her.

Adair had always possessed an interest in global politics, but without the help of debate, she would have never delved into it. Joining the debate team gave her an opportunity that would have never been presented to her otherwise.

“Had I not joined debate, it would have been a colossal mistake. Debate changed my life and completely saved my experience at El Camino College,” Adair said.

Adair never thought she would get out of community college and was worried that if she did, she may end up with the wrong major; however, with the help of her professors and willingness to try new things, Adair found something she loved, which was debate.

The debate team historically does very well in tournaments. They go to nationals every year, and there are always students who advance to finals in both individual and partner events. Adair competes in four events during a tournament, three individual, and one partner event.

During Adair’s first year on the team, she and her partner, Nicole Flanagan, made it to the final bracket and took home silver after winning eight of the rounds they competed in. After this big win, Adair was filled with a sense of community and confidence like never before.

“Being on the team with Shea made the debate team and college experience really enjoyable,” Flanagan said. “We balanced each other out.”

As the year went on, the pair worked together and were able to do things that they never thought they would be able to do, Adair said.

“When I first met Shea, she obviously came across as smart, but now she is eloquent and fluid,” Bishop said. “She is the whole package.”

Adair’s confidence increased exponentially after her joining the debate team, and without it she would have had a very different community college experience.

“Debate has forced me to become a better communicator, to learn the different styles of communicating as well as making me more aware of things that are going on politically,” Adair said. “I now have a thirst for knowledge, even without an extrinsic reward.”

Although at first Adair was uncomfortable with public speaking, she thrived in the debate environment with the help of her peers and professors.

“I credit where I am academically today to some of the amazing teachers I have had who have given me credible advice who have been, and are more than willing to help me become a better student,” Adair said.

Upon acquiring her associates degree for transfer from EC, Adair intends to transfer to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to obtain her bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

“Seventeen-year-old Shea did not think she was going to get anything out of community college, but if I had not gone to community college, I would have ended up with the wrong major, and I would not have been able to experience debate and I think it just ended up happening the way it was meant to,” Adair said.