Students receive team and individual awards during annual Forensics Showcase in the School of Business auditorium

Liberty University’s Forensics Showcase featured student presentations from 6-7:30 p.m. at the School of Business auditorium April 10 to highlight the forensics team’s hard work.

Laurel Stiekes, a Liberty University graduate student seeking a master’s degree in professional communication, helped run the event and shared her insight on the Forensics Showcase.

“I think this event was a wonderful way to highlight what the forensics team was doing all year round,” Stiekes said.

Layna Webb, Ruthie Rossman, Abigail Payne, Thomas Yu, Katrina McMillen, Emmeline Soyars, Christian Harver, Cat Lowers, Jaiden Lane and Hannah Gross presented.

Seniors received 10 minutes for their speeches, while others gave shortened versions of their original speeches.

Photo by Kelley Atkinson

According to Liberty University’s website, the forensics team is all about strengthening confidence in public speaking and developing poise while being part of a team full of
talented peers.   


Coming off a strong 2023-2024 season, the team received 222 individual awards — of which 34 were first place. They also won 15 team awards including six in first place and five national championships.   

Marie Mallory, the chair of Strategic and Personal Communication, spoke about the team’s success and opened the Forensics Showcase with prayer for all the speakers.

A video compilation shared members’ individual stories, which included how long they have been competing, the support they gained and the relationships they developed while being part of the forensics team at Liberty University.   

“They truly have been able to be a voice for the voiceless and use these advocacy speeches to share Christ’s name and truly be Champions for Christ across the nation,” Stiekes said.

The showcase concluded with four awards presented, one of which was individually presented by Cecil Kramer, who was encouraged by Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. to come to Liberty University and begin the debate team in the 1980s.

The Top Novice Award was awarded to Soyars, the Most Improved Award was given to Webb, the Young Champion Award was given to Lane and the Cecil Kramer Award for Excellence to Gross. 

Webb presented on the topic of information, where she spoke about technology in our lives and society and the impact it has on our future. Her story followed the Da Vinci robot, which suffered some past setbacks including the death of a patient.

Photo by Kelley Atkinson

“Despite these setbacks, the Da Vinci is still prominent,” Webb said.

Presenting on behalf of Duo Interpretation, Payne and Yu opened their presentation with an introduction video. 

Speaking about the bond of siblings and the effects of being separated by foster care, Payne and Yu explained the psychological harm and health disorders foster care can result in. They further questioned why things are not changing, the children’s need for nourishment and care and their limited choices.

Soyars’ presentation topic was persuasion. She spoke about a 20-year-old social media influencer who is spreading awareness of her condition. She continued to talk about the problem of women’s exclusion in research regarding autism.

“It is clear that there is a need for action (in research),” Soyars said.

Harver covered the topic of prose interpretation and shared a story about his experience with high-functioning autism and the importance of awareness. He additionally talked about hyperfixation and its effects.

Gross talked about communication analysis and the dangers of religious manipulation, specifically on artificial intelligence claiming it is God, and our role in bringing religious exploitation to an end.

For more information on Liberty University’s forensics team, visit their website

Militello is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion

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