WINNER OF INTEGRITY COMMISSION’S INAUGURAL
TERTIARY LEVEL DEBATES
The Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, as part of its mandate to raise awareness and educate the wider public on the critical importance of integrity in public life, recently hosted its Inaugural Tertiary Level Debates Competition ‘Integrity Matters’, which concluded on Wednesday March 18th, 2015.
Participating in the competition were teams from several institutions, including the Caribbean Nazarene College, the University of the Southern Caribbean, The University of the West Indies and the University of Trinidad and Tobago to name a few. At the end of what can only be described as three rigorous rounds of challenging debate, it was the team from the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) that emerged victorious.
Debaters Akeela Marin and Shiv Sawh of COSTAATT’s Ken Gordon School of Journalism and Communication Studies along with alternate Megan Gomez, a final year student of the BA Literature and Communication programme, all represented the College as “Team COSTAATT”.
The students were selected and recommended by their various lecturers who observed their ability to deliver quality presentations in the classroom, a key component of the College’s core curriculum, which all degree seeking students must pursue. Being mainly communications students, members of Team COSTAATT were also able to draw on the research techniques and oral presentation skills that they have been able to develop as a result of their respective programmes of study at COSTAATT.
Although, not experienced in formal debates, the students rose to the occasion, describing the preparations for the competition as intense. “We would spend 9 or 10 hour sessions every day preparing,” Shiv recalled. Akeela remembered staying up late at night, reading as much material as she possibly could to familiarize herself with the arguments for and against the various motions; while Megan recalled “combing through countless news articles from beginning to end” and reading numerous websites in preparation for the competition.
Despite the intensity of the preparations for the debates, the students each felt confident that they were competent and ready to perform, mainly because of the level of guidance and support provided by the team of lecturers who assisted them. “Some of the best advice I received was from my communications lecturer, Mr. Roddy Batchasingh, who from the very beginning took the pressure off by telling us not to focus on winning, but rather on preparing well and making ourselves and the College proud,” Akeela explained. Shiv echoed Akeela’s sentiments adding that the support of lecturers, Mr. Batchasingh, Kevin Peters and Communications Chair, Mrs. Sophia Edwards-Knox, was also essential to their success, as they remained with them during the long hours of practice; coaching and helping them to refine their arguments and presentations.
Team COSTAATT’s journey throughout the debates truly highlighted the College’s emphasis on the nurturing and professional development of our students; with the team benefitting not only from their coursework thus far, but also from the student-centred approach embraced by the College’s faculty and their unwavering support and commitment to student success. The team and the College are also thankful to Ms. Clarinda Jack, Dean of the Ken Gordon School of Communications Studies, Department Chair, Joel Nanton and other faculty members Keron King, La Toya Gibson, Wayne De Landro and Earl Best.
The joint effort and hard work have certainly paid off, as the debaters were commended by the judges for their knowledge, strength of arguments, use of well researched facts and statistics to support their stance; and the varied and interesting stylistic approaches of their presentations. Senior Counsel Martin Daly, in announcing the winners, singled out the COSTAATT team as being the one he would call on, if ever he ever needed to defend a very difficult case.
“I’ve always felt privileged to be a part of an institution that is interested in producing well rounded students and I’m happy that I was able to represent my school and show the nation the quality of students COSTAATT produces.”
“I hold so much respect for each one of the schools that participated but I feel in the end, our approach, our style, our variation in personalities as team mates and the determination from each other and our lecturers/coaches drove us to succeed in winning this inaugural debate competition. I am so happy when other students tell me that they felt proud of us, it really makes me feel great to be a COSTAATT student.”
“The overall experience was stressful but incredibly worthwhile. Not just because we won, which is a huge plus, but because it was so rewarding being able to meet these new people and bounce ideas off each other to work towards achieving a common goal.”
The Board, management, staff and students of the College extend heartfelt congratulations to Team COSTAATT and are exceedingly proud of the work done and the historic victory gained.
Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training has also joined in congratulating the COSTAATT team on their outstanding achievement, which he said “has made us all proud”.
The College takes this opportunity to thank the Integrity Commission for hosting these inaugural debates and also extends congratulations to the other worthy participants.
Once again, congratulations and heartfelt thanks to Akeela, Shiv and Megan on this very noteworthy achievement!!
The COSTAATT debate team (L-R) Megan Gomez, Akeela Marin, Shiv Sawh pose with their winning prizes.
COSTAATT President (Ag) Dr. Gillian Paul, on the left, along with Senior Lecturer & Chair of Communication Studies, Ms. Sophia Edwards, accept the purchase voucher awarded to the winning team.