Haley Uttley, senior political science and communications major and member of the debate team, has a laundry list of impressive achievements from her four years on the William Jewell College team. Just this year, she and her debate partner, Ethan Hawn, senior political science major and international relations major, won the I-70 Championship Cup and first place Part 1 and second place in the Texas Two-Step tournament, were quarterfinalists at the Georgia Bowman Invitational tournament, semi-finalists at the Rice University Classic, finalists at the Bearcat Classic, finalists at the Hunsaker Invitational and finished as a top five team out of 458 ranked teams in the year-long National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE).
“The national rankings compile results from each regular season tournament to display how teams rank up against each other heading into the National Championship tournaments. Four years ago, David Hansen and Katelyn Johnson, the 2016 NPDA National Champions, also finished 5th in the season-long rankings. This consistency is telling of the competitive strength of the debate program at Jewell,” said Uttely.
Individually, Uttley won awards for being the top speaker at the Texas Two Step tournament, top speaker at the Missouri National Warmup, second place speaker at both the Steve Hunt Classic Invitational and second place at the McKendree University Swing. She ascribes her success to the supportive community at Jewell.
“Ethan and I made it our goal to become an elite debate team. Over the past four years, we have climbed the national rankings due to an incredible amount of support from our coaching staff and teammates, and the ability to attend nationally competitive tournaments afforded to us by Jewell,” Uttely said.
Uttley decided to debate in college for a variety of reasons.
“I wanted the chance to debate for a national debate championship coach and team that I knew had the expertise to elevate my development. I fell in love with debate in high school and knew that I was not done. Being a collegiate debater is not easy, but it has been the most formative part of my college experience. Debate pushed me to compete with some of the top students in the country from Universities such as Rice and Berkeley, taught me how to formulate a well-warranted argument and exposed me to ideas and subjects I otherwise would not have encountered,” said Uttely.
Uttley describes the process of preparing for a round of debate as the most rewarding part of her debating experience and is appreciative of the quality of competition the debate community has provided her. In reflecting upon her Jewell experience, she expressed appreciation for the role faculty have played in her education and development.
“My professors often go out of their way to support my academic and personal development. Having the opportunity to sit in the classroom with Jewell faculty is a privilege I am extremely grateful for. Not only are they great academics, but they are also great people. I think there is an obvious consensus among Jewell students that what makes Jewell great is the faculty,” Uttely said.
After graduating, Uttley plans on attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City law school as a member of their class of 2022. When starting at Jewell, she was already considering pursuing a career in law.
“I greatly look forward to the privilege of purposing my skills to advocate for people who need someone in their corner,” said Uttely.
Participating in debate guided her further along this path and fostered the skills necessary for law.
“Kyle Dennis, [director of debate], always emphasized to me that one of the end goals of debate was to get into a graduate school that I wanted to attend… One of the great things about debate is that you have the ability to work closely with a few coaches, or one coach, during your entire college career. That student-coach relationship is unique to debate and is instrumental in ensuring students are supported [and] thriving,” Uttely said.
Uttley is grateful to Jewell for the opportunities provided by her courses and by debate, especially in fostering her desire to pursue law.
“Choosing to attend graduate school, especially directly after college, is a big decision. Without debate and my course work at Jewell, I do not know that I would have been adequately prepared to pursue law. At Jewell, I have taken three courses taught by adjunct professors with law degrees [Chief Justice on the Missouri Supreme Court Zel Fischer, Kate Noland and Beth Hazels]. Most of these courses are structured like a law school classroom, and I anticipate they will help me to succeed in my courses next year at UMKC. I love Kansas City and am extremely excited to begin studying law here and transition to after-college life in a few months,” said Uttely.
Uttley wants to thank the College for supporting the debate team and for making exceptional student experiences like hers possible. She also thanked Dennis for his role in fostering her experience on debate.
“[Thank you] for putting in an impossible amount of work over the last four years to make Jewell debate a home and a team that demands excellence in debate and in life.”
Photos courtesy of Haley Uttley.