WUDL Debater Alexa Figueroa Named Urban Debater of the Year Finalist

Last week, the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL), announced the Finalists for the National Urban Debater of the Year Award. This award is given to the best urban debater in the nation, out of thousands of candidates. This young person displays both competitive excellence, service, leadership, character, and a genuine passion for debate. Over the years, the Washington Urban Debate League has had some pretty incredible nominees, and a few have been recognized by the NAUDL:

2016-2017: Finalist:

Keoni Scott-Reid, Largo High School

Keoni holds almost all of the "firsts" in WUDL History, including arguably being our first debater, our first national qualifier, our first student to debate and win a round outside of the league, and our first nominee for Urban Debater of the Year. Debate changed the trajectory of his life, and he became a pillar of the community, mentoring and coaching younger debaters before tragically passing away in 2019. You are sorely missed.

2018-2019: Finalist:

Bilqiis Sheikh-Issa, DuVal High School

Bilqiis started her debate career late, as a junior, but rose to the Varsity Division during her first year of debate. Bilqiis, an immigrant from Somalia, embraced the 2019 Immigration Topic as an opportunity to tell her own story. She pushed the envelope with innovative argumentation and was recruited to debate at the University of Mary Washington. Her argumentative innovations are still being mimicked by teams today.

2018-2019: National Urban Debater of the Year:

Jonathan Collins, DuVal High School

Jonathan started his debate career as a freshman, juggling basketball and debate. A natural orator, Jonathan advanced quickly and became one of the "teams to beat" in the WUDL. Jonathan was a strong team leader as well as a debater, a key component of DuVal High School's multi-year run as the WUDL Sweepstakes Award winners. He and partner Ernest Ntangu broke to Octo-Finals at the UDNC, a WUDL first, and previously held the record for trips to elimination rounds at travel tournaments in a season.

Now, we have an addition to this august roster: Alexa Figueroa

Alexa walked onto her school's debate team as a sophomore, lured partially by the promise of free Peruvian chicken. With partner Dennis, she went straight to JV, and although they encountered some challenges along the way, they won the JV Division at Districts in their first year of debate. A member of the Travel Team ever since, Alexa has competed in a number of regional and national tournaments, including winning the Harvard University Debate en Espanol Division several weekends ago. Alexa, an aspiring journalist, is an amazing advocate for the activity, and even made a documentary about the benefits of debate, and often pushing to make the activity more accessible for non-native English speakers.

We're rooting for you!

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