Forensics team excels at international tournament, wins multiple awards


Forensics coach Joseph Evans (left), Director of Forensics Francesca Bishop, Jana Abulaban, Sheriff Abdrahman, forensics coach Brittany Hubble, Uzair Pasta, Cody Hagemeier at the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, March 12. (Photo courtesy of Francesca Bishop)

Speech and debate students from El Camino College won multiple individual awards and fifth place overall at the 33rd International Forensics Association Tournament.

Four students and three coaches flew across the world to represent El Camino’s forensics team in Tokyo, Japan where the tournament took place on March 13-14.

This tournament was the first time an El Camino forensics team represented the college on the international level.

Other colleges and universities across California and the U.S. also attended the event and took more students in comparison to El Camino.

The forensics team participated in five of the 17 speech events at the tournament, where they placed in four of them.


Here is a list of the awards that El Camino’s Forensics team won:

Open Division Sweepstakes: Fifth place – El Camino College

Open Impromptu Speaking: First place – Uzair Pasta

Open Prose Interpretation: Sixth place – Jana Abulaban

Open After Dinner Speaking: Second place- Uzair Pasta

Open IPDA (International Public Debate Association): First place – Cody Hagemeier

Open IPDA Top Speaker: Uzair Pasta


Forensics coach Brittany Hubble, who went with the team, told The Union that everyone had a great time and were “very fortunate” to represent El Camino internationally.

“It was awesome, proud to be able to represent El Camino, and super proud of the students,” Hubble said.

Business major Sheriff Abdrahman, a forensics team member, said that experiencing Japan was a “culture shock.”

He also highlighted what he learned from being around other speakers at the tournament.

“Don’t be overconfident in general, there are so many talented debaters across the country and world,” Abdrahman said.

Political science major Cody Hagemeier took first place in the Open IPDA tournament and said that this tournament experience means a lot to him.

“It’s a testament to the quality of the program at El Camino,” Hagemeier said. “We have some of the best coaches and because of that we are able to go out and do well.”

Captain of the debate team Uzair Pasta said that he is “proud of his achievements” after winning multiple awards and that the tournament was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Pasta said that he hopes this event experience is “a stepping stone for El Camino to dominate in the international level” in the future since the program is able to capitalize on talent in the south bay.

(From L-R) Cody Hagemeier, Jana Abulaban, Sheriff Abdrahman, Uzair Pasta at the Kaminarimon Gate in Taito City, Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, March 12 (Photo courtesy of Francesca Bishop)
Cody Hagemeier (left), Jana Abulaban, Sheriff Abdrahman, Uzair Pasta at the Kaminarimon Gate in Taito City, Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, March 12 (Photo courtesy of Francesca Bishop)

In order to attend more international events, Director of Forensics Francesca Bishop said that El Camino should consider giving more funds to the program so more students can attend international events in the future.

“Doing IFA [International Forensics Association] can be a life-changing experience,” Bishop said. “If we can make this an annual event it will change the program for the better.”

Both Pasta and Bishop told The Union that the El Camino College Foundation provided most of the funds for the team to be able to attend this international tournament.

However, Bishop said that the Foundation giving the forensics program money to attend these events “is not something that can continue” on an ongoing basis.

The Dean of Fine Arts Berkeley Price spoke with The Union before the Board of Trustees meeting Monday, March 20, where he was going to speak on behalf of the forensics program to the board members.

“I’m not surprised that they did well, they consistently outperform all the colleges and universities,” Price said. “[I’m] very proud of them.”