Student discovers his gift for debate

Aaron YaredBy Jama Abdirahman
After six long rounds of debating in the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Speech and Debate Tournament, Aaron Yared advanced to the finals.

“It felt like when you’re in a crowd and you don't think you're going to be the one that gets picked out, but suddenly you get picked out,” said Yared, who finished third in one of two Novice Division debates and also was listed as the No. 2 Speaker among all debaters nationally in the Novice Division.

The University of Washington Bothell competed in the tournament over spring break in Boise, Idaho.

“Going to Boise State, in my mind I was already thinking that there's 1,600 people here and most of these people, I have to assume, have been doing this for a while,” he said.

Yared first discovered debate when he took an introduction to debate class with Denise Vaughan, director of forensics. “After that course, she offered another debate practice class and so I started going to that even though I wasn't actually enrolled in the class just so I can get more practice in,” explained Yared.

After officially joining the UW Bothell debate team in January, Yared attended every single tournament that he possibly could. “I wasn't formally trained in debate, which was kind of my huge disadvantage, but everyone on the debate team was more than willing to teach me what I didn’t know and help me catch up,” he said.

Yared had been studying to become an engineer, following in his father's footsteps, but getting involved in debate has made him realize he instead has a passion to become a lawyer.

“So I started looking into it and those classes sounded a lot more fun to me and a lot more interesting. I switched majors, and ever since then it's been smooth sailing.”

After joining the debate team, Yared also began to improve in the classroom. Debate is one of those things that really improves your critical thinking, he said. “I'm much more attentive in class, and I definitely see things in a different light. So whenever I hear an argument, I think, ‘What is the counter argument to this?’”

The UW Bothell debate team, including Yared, will next participate in the local Northwest Parli Championship on April 22. Yared is eager after his third place in the nationals.

“I'm kind of still on cloud nine about it,” he said.