Speaking pretty

Mathew qualifies for national tournament for fourth year


Photo by: Julie Laflen, contributed

Gina Mathew is the first person in PHS school history to qualify for the National Speech and Debate Tournament four years in a row.

Story by Cassidy Bayliss, Reporter

Hard work, determination and consistency are a few of the key points in senior Gina Mathew’s success throughout her forensics career. Mathew is the first to qualify for nationals in forensics all four years in PHS history.

“I think it is very humbling,” Mathew said. “I’m honored to know that I am the first to qualify all four years.”

Qualifying all four years has been a goal of Mathew’s since day one.

“It has definitely been a goal that I have been working toward since I first got that freshman qualification three years ago,” Mathew said. “I told myself that if I dedicated myself to the program enough, that it could happen for me.”

Debate and forensics coach Julie Laflen believes that Mathew’s hard work paid off.

“I think that just goes to show that if you really work hard and you work on the goal that you have, you can accomplish it,” Laflen said. “To listen to her give a speech is beautiful. Some of the kids said she sounds like Obama when she is giving a speech and the precision of her words and fluency really comes through when she is speaking.”

Though Mathew qualified in both informative speaking and U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking (USX), Mathew chose USX as her event to take to nationals. According to Mathew, USX is a seven-minute speech with thirty minutes of preparation on domestic, social economic and political issues.

“It requires a lot of research on current events and the climate of the United States,” Mathew said.

Laflen says that Mathew is always willing to help students out when it comes to preparing for events.

“I think she does a good job, if other kids are asking her for help, she is willing to help them, but I think that she has really set a precedent,” Laflen said. “If you really want to be good at extemporaneous speech or informative, look to Gina: what [she’s] doing and what style of speaking she has.”

Mathew said the confidence she has gained from speech and forensics will help her for the rest of her life.

“Using our voices and [being] able to speak eloquently is something that is very dear to my heart,” Mathew said. “I owe so much to the program that I can’t put into words, the only thing I can say is thank you.”