Making Change, One Argument at a Time

Victoria Bevard, winner of the 2016 National Congressional Debate Championships
Victoria Bevard, winner of the 2016 National Congressional Debate Championships

Victoria Bevard, winner of the 2016 National Congressional Debate Championships

Victoria Bevard is used to speaking up. “In my freshman year, I founded my school's Congressional Debate team and have been captaining it ever since,” says the 17-year-old senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. “It’s been a challenging journey building my team and career together, but I've never considered doing anything less.”

Victoria won the 2016 National Congressional Debate Championships and was one of the first females ever to be ranked in the top three for Congressional Debate.

“In Congressional Debate, we face a variety of current issues at each tournament and debate whether to pass or fail legislation,” Victoria explains. “We focus on both content analysis and giving a convincing presentation.”

Victoria has presented sample legislation on such topics as eliminating tuition at community colleges for students in good standing and lowering the corporate tax rate.



Victoria started debating in middle school, when her history teacher convinced her to join her school’s debate team. She continued her passion for debate in high school, where she founded her school’s team with help from her coach.

“I practice around 20 hours a week," Victoria says. “I have a three-hour round trip bus ride to school each day, so I practice on the bus. I'm sure it annoys some of my busmates, but you have to do what you have to do. I cannot understate the importance of diligent practice and perseverance.”

Now Victoria captains her team, helping new debaters. She also has started the largest Congressional Debate team in Virginia.

“In the same way that my coaches selflessly spent innumerable hours helping me, I strive to be a captain who lives up to that standard," Victoria says. "I’ve written three manuals and spent hours coaching a team that I worked to build. The legacy that this team will leave is far more important than my career.”

After winning the national competition, Victoria offered advice for aspiring debaters: “When things become difficult, just keep pushing because it’ll be worth it in the end. Always remember that your beliefs matter. But most important, don't forget the people who allowed you to get to where you are. Don't forget to go back and contribute to the community that made you who you are.”


Photo courtesy of Victoria Bevard