Sorangel Liriano’s Welcoming Speech!
<p>Shout outs to Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice alumni, Sorangel Liriano, Sorangel was an award winning debater at Bronx Law, winner of the City Championships, full ride scholarship to Columbia University, and helps to run our tournaments every Saturday. Last Saturday she delivered the welcoming speech to the largest middle school tournament in New York State history. Below is her speech! Thanks again Sorangel!</p> <!–more–><p> </p> <p>Good afternoon Chancellor Farina, coaches, parents, guests, staff and most of all my fellow great debaters. My name is Sorangel Liriano and it gives me great pleasure to stand here today.</p> <p> </p> <p>Since I came to the United States from the Dominican Republic, I have aspired to achieve many things, from mastering English to making the most out of my education. I arrived in the Bronx as a seven-year-old girl, speaking only Spanish. My first month in America was not very pleasant. Because of my linguistic impediment, I was often misunderstood and I didn’t get the high grades I was used to achieving in the Dominican Republic. While I learned to speak English in the third grade, it was only with the support and encouragement from teachers and mentors like Mr. Fogel, our amazing director, that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and expand my social and academic horizons in the years that were to follow.</p> <p> </p> <p>As I look back at my high school career, I realize that my greatest struggles had not been with any one academic subject per say, but with the more elusive subject of self-expression. At the beginning of my freshman year, I was very reserved. I rarely interacted with my classmates or participated in class. I realized that I had been afraid to engage with the world around me – to express the full power of my character, voice and mind. I decided to embrace the social, charismatic side of me I had kept hidden, so I increasingly brought down my wall. I thank debate, the New York City Urban Debate League for helping me do so.</p> <p> </p> <p>Through his motivational saying, “Be Great! Be a Great Debater!” Mr. Fogel, who was my Legal Skills teacher at the time, inspired me to join the debate team. As my coach, he had told me that America’s number one fear is public speaking and I was determined to challenge the status quo. I had spent years trying to improve my English and could not let another limit on linguistic expression deter me from succeeding in life. As a debater, I was given a platform on which to express my thoughts about the world around me, to speak without hesitation, formulate coherent arguments, respond to current events, and become a conscious member of society. As many of my fellow debaters will agree, we achieved this by interacting with texts, from newspaper articles to peer-reviewed journals, which improved our reading, critical thinking, research, and argumentation skills—all of which manifested in our every day discussions, our classrooms and at debate tournaments.</p> <p>I remember my first debate tournament. The resolution read: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere. I remember being incredibly nervous but my partner and I worked together and improved as each round went by—we went on to win all of our rounds that day but it was that factor of learning and improving that really established the flow and our participation at the debate rounds.</p> <p>My new confidence helped me seek out new challenges. The following year, I started my very own debate team at my middle school. From my experience, I saw truth in one of the league’s beliefs—that every school should have a debate team. When I was a student at PS/MS 15, there were very little outlets by which my community could expand their educational endeavors. As a coach, I worked with middle school students to develop their public speaking and argumentation skills to equip them for debates featuring U.S intervention in the Syrian conflict, U.S.-Chinese Relations and Immigration Reform, from which they learned and voiced their perspectives on social issues including human trafficking, discrimination, poverty and corrupt politics.</p> <p>Because we come from a crime-ridden community, it was heartwarming to see these students transform, from individuals predestined to fail because of limited resources, into newly changed enthusiasts with a positive outlet for expression of their ideas of the world. Maria, an eighth grader, who did not want to join the team at the beginning, took over as one of the coaches of the team alongside my sister. Omar, a sixth grader who talked about discrimination with monotone whispers, transformed them into assertive roars. He, along with Maria, became 1st Place City Champions in their first year debating.</p> <p> </p> <p>By the twelfth grade, I was a changed person. My old, restrained self walked miles behind me. I had recited an essay in front of all Bronx Court Justices. I became 1 of 50 fellows in Hillary Clinton’s empowering program in Washington D.C, I took classes at one of the country’s best boarding schools in Exeter, New Hampshire and I became a world traveler with the opportunity to teach English in Costa Rica and immerse myself in different cultures of Finland, Sweden and Russia.</p> <p>My involvement in debate also led to my success in academics and in my college admissions process. I graduated as Valedictorian of my class and became part of Columbia University’s Class of 2018 with a full ride in addition to some of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships including the Best Buy, Coca Cola Scholars Foundation, The New York Times, Dell, Questbridge, Horatio Alger and Gates Millennium Scholarships.</p> <p> </p> <p>Overall, I can truly say that my involvement with the New York City Debate League continues to serve as a catalyst for all of my achievements and my academic endeavors. The league has given me great opportunities to keep involved and to grow—I have taken the identity of a debater, tournament coordinating staff, a judge, a coach, and currently as a Tabroom Director. I encourage all of the debaters to do the same—to take advantage of all opportunities to learn about the world and improve yourselves.</p> <p>Finally, I thank the NYCUDL for setting the foundation for all of my successes and for those to come for this generation and the coming generations of debaters.</p> <p> </p> <p>Once again, congratulations to all debaters here today.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>