LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov 1, 2016) — Want to get to know the people behind some of the biggest student leadership positions on campus? We did, too! That's why we've introduced "see blue." #selfie — a series on UKNow that lets student leaders from across campus tell us a little bit more about themselves and their organizations. Up this week, the University of Kentucky Speech and Debate Team President Kaylon Kennedy.
Kaylon Kennedy is a junior communications major who is minoring in political science. Speech and debate have been part of her life since high school, and when she found out during her freshman year that UK had a speech and debate team, she jumped at the opportunity. Now, she heads the team, encouraging each member to strive toward the team's goal of rising in national rankings. Practicing at least two hours each day, this motivated and passionate leader explains what it takes to be part of a top 10 speech and debate team in her "see blue." #selfie.
UKNow: What is your major and what year are you?
Kaylon Kennedy: I'm a junior and my major is communications with a minor in political science.
UK: Where are you from?
KK: I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. My mom was in the military so I moved around a lot. I consider my hometown to be Elizabethtown because that's where I went to high school. Actually, I was looking up colleges that offered forensics and I just happened upon UK. I fell in love! I thought this was the school for me. I was part of forensics in high school.
UK: Tell me about what you do as president of the UK Speech and Debate team.
KK: Pretty much my role was just recently adopted onto the leadership team. The team is only five years old. President is in charge of campus activities, interacting with the College of Communication and Information. Since we are new, we try and stretch our roots on campus with other organizations with similar goals.
UK: When did you become involved?
KK: My freshman year, two years ago.
UK: What made you decide that you wanted to be a part of this team?
KK: Well, I did it all four years of high school. I really loved it, so I wanted to keep doing it. I tried out. I was nervous, but I ended up getting on the team!
UK: How many people are on the Speech and Debate team?
KK: Right now, there are 10. We are pretty much capped at 10.
UK: What is a typical schedule for you all throughout the year?
KK: We have individual practices every week. Then, every other weekend, especially in October and November, we have a tournament that lasts almost all weekend. We travel across the country to them!
UK: How far have you traveled to compete?
KK: Once we drove 14 hours to go to Minnesota, but I think the farthest we have traveled has been Texas though.
UK: How many competitions do you all have a year?
KK: Approximately eight or nine. Then we have two national tournaments. The national tournaments are the real deal!
UK: You had a successful year in 2015, ranking within the top 16 nationally! How many hours on average a week do you prepare for competitions?
KK: We are top 16 in the National Forensics Association and then top 10 in the nation in Pi Kappa Delta, which is a forensics community that any team across the nation can join. Personally, I practice every day at least two hours. You have to keep up to do well! But, without meeting times, our practices can last five to six hours because we have group and individual practices. We like to be competitive. It's a time commitment if you want to do well.
UK: What do you find is the best way to prepare for competitions?
KK: I run my speeches over and over. I have really bad memory naturally. I just have to practice.
UK: What is the difference between forensics and the speech and debate team?
KK: Forensics is based on Aristotle of rhetorical perfections. We combine debate and speech as a team to make forensics. So, it's the same thing!
UK: Have you ever had a really embarrassing moment during a competition?
KK: My debate partner had an embarrassing moment once. It was very cold and there was ice on the steps. We had to wear heels because our competitions require business attire. My debate partner didn't realize the stairs were so slick and she fell down and all of our competitors outside saw her. But, she survived!
UK: What is your vision for the team this year?
KK: My vision is for the team as a whole to do better than last year. It's not a huge goal, but it's important for everyone to do their best. We have a really great team and we recruited four new people who have so much potential. We are hoping to move up in the national rankings!
UK: Has there been a faculty or staff member who has encouraged you to take on this role or just guided you throughout your time at UK?
KK: Tim Bill. He's the greatest person. When I first joined the team I had no idea how much I would be involved. Tim teaches and coaches the team — he doesn't have to, but he does. He's always there for us. He has made my stay at UK really warm!
UK: Is there anything else that you're involved in on campus?
KK: Yes, I'm part of the Black Student Union and the Communication Student Association.
UK: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
KK: I love the Internet. I love social media and things like Tumblr. Really, I like anything social media involved.
UK: What was your favorite Halloween costume growing up?
KK: When I was five or six, in kindergarten, they made us costumes. I was a soda can, Mountain Dew. I was out trick-or-treating and I wanted to keep up with my older brother. I tripped and fell and rolled into the ditch! I just cried because I couldn't get up. It was a cute costume though!
UK: What is your favorite thing about campus in the fall?
KK: I like the leaves on campus. I like taking pictures with my Starbucks. I'm into it. I just love the way campus looks in the fall!
UK: What is your go-to Starbucks order?
KK: I like chai tea lattes!
UK: What is one place in Lexington where you like to spend your time?
KK: I really like going to Triangle Park. I just started going there! There are so many cool restaurants and stores. I really like that area.
UK: What is your favorite candy?
KK: It's between Reese's Cups and Skittles.
UK: What is one piece of advice you'd give to an incoming freshman?
KK: I would tell them to go to class and to balance work and social life. When I first got here, I was so hyper-focused on classes that I didn't do any of the fun stuff.
UK: You're happiest when …
KK: I'm with my animals! I have a cat named Cole and a dog named Savannah. Cole is a tuxedo cat, so he's black and white. Savannah is a miniature schnauzer. Also, I'm happy when I'm with my family.
"see blue." #selfies will appear every other Tuesday on UKNow. Know a student leader we should feature? Contact Rebecca Stratton at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate someone.
UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue
MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton, email@example.com, 859-323-2395