Ashley Phord-Toy follows her passion to sunny Stanford University

How did you first come to be coached by Frankie Cena?

 Snapping photos in Cape Town, South Africa

Snapping photos in Cape Town, South Africa

I first came to be coached by Frankie because he was the coach for my school's debate club. Although I was initially hesitant about speaking in front of so many people, Frankie started coaching the newest members through games. To this day, I still remember the very first activity Frankie made us do was a public speaking game centered around the phrase “I am the best and everybody watches me”. From then on, I knew I wanted Frankie to keep coaching me.

What makes you love debate?

I love debate for so many reasons! I love how debate pushes me to see an issue from multiple perspectives and encourages me to create directed solutions to form a better world. I also love how debate has allowed me to travel the world, make friends from different cultural backgrounds, and learn about world issues I otherwise wouldn’t have cared about. Through various tournaments and topics, I’ve been exposed to really interesting theories and controversies I otherwise would never have been exposed to in school.

How you do you think your coaching helped you succeed?

My coaching helped me succeed because it allowed me to reach far more of my potential. Frankie and Dena, my primary two coaches, always gave me extremely useful feedback. This was integral to my success as a debater. In addition, coaching helped me succeed because I was always challenged. Frankie and Dena did an excellent job making sure I was constantly introduced to new motions and complex activities.

Why did you choose to go to Stanford?

I chose to go to Stanford because it fulfilled what I was looking for in a great college! Through high school debate, I’ve been introduced to so many realms of study that interest me... social justice, philosophy, ethics, and more. Stanford seemed like the perfect school to explore all of my interests because students are required to take a liberal arts approach (exploring a variety of courses from different fields of study). In addition, when I visited the campus in Grade 11, the professors and students were extremely welcoming. I couldn’t help but admire how everyone was so deeply passionate about what they were doing, whether that be a research project, lab report, or scientific survey.

How do you think the skills you learned in debate will help you in university and beyond?

Hours of late nights preparing for finals rounds taught me how to research, examine, and think deeply. When ideas contradict my own, debate has taught me the power of reasoning for differing viewpoints, arguing for opposing sides with nuance. I will certainly employ these skills in university and beyond as I converse with peers, discuss with professors, and explore my intellectual interests.