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Bethel Student Named National Champion at Christian College Forensics Final

Bethel Student Named National Champion at Christian College Forensics Final

Alyssa Teh ’20 with Duo Interpretation partner Nathan Bajema ’20. In addition to solo success, the pair placed fifth at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational this year. (Photo Credit: provided by Alyssa Teh)

For Alyssa Teh ’20, forensics is more than just “speech club.” It is a means of personal growth and emotional expression.

Teh, an independent filmmaking major from Chaska, Minnesota, has been involved in forensics since her junior year of high school. She placed first at the state level that year and finaled in the following season. After a successful two-year run, she decided to pursue speech at the college level.

This March, she competed with Bethel University’s forensics team—led by Professor of Communication Studies Michael Dreher—at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational (NCCFI) held at Azusa Pacific University in California. The team’s efforts were met with success across numerous events. Teh ranked highly in three categories—Prose, Program Oral Interpretation, and Duo Performance—and earned the title of national champion in the Program Oral Interpretation (POI) Division.

“Prose is like telling a story,” she says. “Typically, it's a very sad story… [m]any… are personal…pieces that really tug on the heartstrings. Program Oral Interpretation focuses on sending a message or raising awareness about something through dramatic pieces like prose, poetry, and drama. It's like the lovechild of a poetry slam and a short story.”

This year, Teh drew on her family’s Chinese heritage in her speech, a nod to the importance of connecting emotionally to the content being presented. “Last year, I performed a piece that I was kind of ‘meh’ about, and halfway through the season I found myself hating it. This year, I performed a piece… [on] a topic that was really personal to me, and I found myself really digging deep to find all the emotion connected to these events. It really helped my performance.”

She also enjoys participating in group events like Duo Interpretation, in which she and partner Nathan Bajema '19 placed fifth this year. “We’ve been competing for roughly two years together, and it's been a lot of fun getting to know each other through speech and our performances,” Teh says. “We perform small skits with each other, but the rules require that we don't physically touch or make eye contact. It's a lot of practice and a lot of skill, but we make it work.”

Teh’s time with the forensics team has challenged her and helped her grow. Not only does she credit it with helping her overcome “massive stage fright,” but she also loves watching her teammates grow into their own identities.

“There is so much each individual is capable of. As one of the older team members, seeing the freshmen grow in terms of skill and confidence is one of the most rewarding things,” she says. “Every person has a voice and is capable of doing so much with their own two hands. I strongly believe that God has gifted each one of us with a passion for something, and being in forensics allows me to share that passion. I can only hope that I continue to grow with and through my teammates through the coming seasons.”

Other honors for members of Bethel’s Forensics team are as follows:

  • Brooke Thacker: 5th place in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking, 2nd place novice in Communication Analysis, 4th place Junior Varsity Parliamentary Debate team
  • Caitlin Heck: 4th place novice in Prose Interpretation
  • James Seibel: 2nd place novice in After Dinner Speaking
  • Kylie Gregory: 4th place Junior Varsity parli debate team
  • McKayla Schneck: 3rd place novice in Dramatic Interpretation
  • Nathan Bajema: 6th place in Dramatic Interpretation, 5th place in Duo Interpretation
  • Rachel Rosell: 3rd in Poetry
  • Summer Sedlacek: 7th in Program Oral Interpretation (second place novice)