Potomac sophomore Kaitlyn Maher has been chosen for the highly selective USA Debate Development Team. Each year, after a rigorous application process, the National Speech & Debate Association picks 12 American high school students who have distinguished themselves in World Schools Style debate to receive this honor. The group will compete throughout the US over the course of the year. (An additional 12 students, usually high school upperclassmen, are selected for the USA Debate Team, which travels internationally.)
"I was so thrilled when I found out I'd been accepted," Maher says. "As someone who is interested in a career in international affairs, I see this as a significant opportunity. With World Schools debate, you analyze how political, economic, and social issues affect various nations. For example, one United Nations treaty can end up impacting millions of people globally. This is a way of engaging in topics that I'm passionate about and brainstorming solutions that could change the world."
Maher has been involved in speech and debate since the eighth grade. She has also been a professional singer and actress since early childhood. She explains, "I was drawn to debate by the opportunity to leverage my public speaking skills and my passion for reaching a broad audience." In addition to World Schools Style – a type of debate that focuses on global issues and involves speeches made by two teams of three members each – Maher also competes in three other styles: parliamentary debate, public forum debate, and extemporaneous speaking.
She credits her Potomac coach, Harry Strong, with providing her with mentorship and inspiration during the application process. "Mr. Strong really encouraged me to reach for this opportunity, to believe that I had the talent and could achieve this," she explains.
Maher has already completed her first tournament with the USA Debate Development Team, which took place in New Orleans. She will soon travel to Cornell University for her next competition.