Making Room for Debate

Candid photo with students

Led by Director Melissa Maxcy-Wade 72C 76G 96T 00T (above, right) since 1972, the Barkley Forum debate team marked its sixtieth anniversary last year.

Ann Borden

As a freshman, Rajesh Jegadeesh 13B found a home at Emory in the small Barkley Forum office at the back of Dobbs University Center. Sitting in the same office as a senior, preparing to graduate from Goizueta Business School with a degree in finance, Jegadeesh realizes how much he gained in four years with the nationally renowned team.

“There was always someone here—from the coaches to the other members—to listen and discuss anything. There is no place on campus where I have found more intellectual curiosity than here,” he says. “It is amazing how the skills learned through debate can be applied in all aspects of life, especially being able to intelligently incorporate all sides of an issue into consideration. I think it makes you a more complete person.”

Jegadeesh will work in finance when he graduates, and his plans for the future include working in the nonprofit sector.

“I never would have thought about doing that before, but working with the Urban Debate League has had a huge impact on what I want to do down the line. In teaching younger kids how to debate, I have learned how important it is for them to have someone to listen to them and to help them develop advocacy skills for themselves,” he says.

During Campaign Emory, alumni and friends raised more than $1 million to establish an endowment for the Barkley Forum.

Lilly Correa 73C is the Campus Life representative for the Emory Alumni Board and was cochair of the committee that helped fund the endowment. As a student, she came to Emory specifically to be a part of the Barkley Forum.

“I attended a two-week summer high school workshop with the Barkley Forum. It was an intense debate experience, but it was so much fun,” Correa says. “In much the same way other people go to a school to be on a football team, I wanted to come to Emory to be a part of the Barkley Forum.”

Correa still counts many fellow participants among her closest friends and colleagues. She also gained skills from debate that have helped her in her career in financial services.

“The Barkley Forum taught me how to be successful, but it also teaches you the balance you need to have between career, family, and social justice issues,” she says. “Hopefully this endowment makes that true for many future Emory students as well.”

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