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Meet the Staff

What sets us apart is our unwavering commitment to the activity of debate itself. Unlike other camps, our team is still deeply involved in the debate community and have a firsthand understanding of what it takes to excel.

Public Forum Instructors

Our instructors consists of former top PF competitors with a combined 50+ gold bids, 4 T10 Teams at NSDA Nationals, and 1 TOC top speaker.

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Ale Perri

UChicago '25 | Mathematics, Political Science

Ale debates in APDA for UChicago and is an assistant debate coach for the Blake High School.

In the 2022-2023 collegiate season, Ale was APDA's #1 ranked Team of the Year, championing the Yale, Princeton, Brown, and NYU tournaments, among others. He is now president of Chicago Debate Society and is excited to share his knowledge with others!

In high school, Ale placed 3rd at the 2021 NSDA Nationals and championed the Apple Valley and Milo Cup tournaments, while accumulating 7 career TOC gold bids.

 

He’s excited to coach this summer!

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Julien Benchek

UChicago '27 | Global Studies, Economics

Julien debated at Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio for four years, amassing 5 gold bids.

 

His most notable accomplishments include championing 2023 NCFL Nationals and reaching semifinals at 2022 NCFL Nationals. Julien also championed the 2023 Ohio state tournament and reached finals at the Barkley Forum.

 

Julien also reached late elimination rounds at many other tournaments such as Glenbrooks and Stanford.

He looks forward to teaching students his knowledge!

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Brendon Chen

UChicago '28 | Economics, Political Science

Brendon is from Taipei, Taiwan and a rising freshman at UChicago planning to major in Economics/Political Science. His illustrious high school debate career included being ranked 5th in the US (NDCA) and campioning both the UK and Cavelier tournaments. In addition, Brendon accumulated 9 gold bids and broke at TOC gold twice. 

 

Aside from debating, he also enjoys playing chess (according to him, he's bad), watching basketball (technically a Bull's fan now that he's in Chicago), listening to "vibey" music, and reading about deep stuff like cosmology. He can’t wait to work with you all this summer!

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Roy Tiefer

UChicago '25 | Law Letters & Society, Economics (BA/MA)

In high school, Roy was ranked the #1 PF debater in the country, amassing 12 gold bids in 14 tournaments — setting the record for most bids in a single year. Roy championed Glenbrooks, Blake, Durham, Emory, Harvard, Stanford, Strake RR, and King RR and also top spoke almost every round robin he attended. 

 

Roy also coached over a dozen teams in the circuit, helping them amass over 30 gold bids. Additionally, he’s worked at over five debate camps and workshops, teaching hundreds of students. 

 

In college, Roy became APDA's #1 Speaker of the Year, winning eight tournaments — including the 2023 National Championship. In 2024 he continued his impressive APDA record, becoming #1 Team of the Year.

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Annie Fan

UChicago '28 | Economics, Political Science

Annie is a recent graduate from Lexington high school in Massachusetts. In her impressive high school debate career she achieved 13 career TOC bids and numerous top team and speaker awards at various tournaments including semifinalling United Kingdom and 2nd speaking University of Pennsylvania.

Besides debate she does a lot of baking and out of tune karaoke. She's excited to meet with you all this summer!

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Arnuv Nigam

UChicago '28 | Undeclared

Arnuv's debate accomplishments include: being ranked #1 in the Nation in Public Forum this past  season, 11 TOC Gold Bids in 2 years; championing Stanford Invitational, Lakeland Westchester Classic, TOC Digital 2, Arizona District, and most Arizona local tournaments; reaching finals at Season Opener and ASU (2023); reaching semis at Cypress Bay, Nano Nagle, and La Costa Canyon; reaching octos at Harvard, Bellaire, Sunvite, ASU (2024), and John Lewis; earning 1st Seed at John Lewis and La Costa Canyon; and earning 1st speaker at Cypress Bay. 

 

Arnav debated for 3 years and enjoys teaching economics/IR policy topics. As Captain of his debate team in junior year, Arnav led novices to outround appearances at every tournament attended, and one of his novice teams are TOC-qualified this year. Arnav is very excited to work with everyone!

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Jonathan Chen

UChicago '27 | Political Science, Law Letters & Society

Jonathan was the President of Taipei American's Speech & Debate Team

 

As a top PF competitor, he accumulated 7 gold bids and was a TOC octafinalist. In addition to several top placements, Jonathan also championed the Stanford tournament. Most recently, he placed 3rd at the 2023 NSDA Nationals!

 

In his free time, Jonathan started a non-profit to teach debate, lectured at Fulbright for local Taiwanese debaters, and also plays the cello!

 

Jonathan is happy to join the CDA team!

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Michael Hansen

UChicago '28 | Undeclared

Michael is a rising freshman at UChicago coming off of four years of exceptional debate at Durham Academy. His illustrious PF career include championing TOC in 2023 and being ranked the #1 PF debater that season by NSD. He was also the 2022 NCFL Champion

In college he's planning to major in History, Econ, or Philosophy. Outside of debate, he enjoys playing basketball, watching movies (Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of his favorites), listening to music, and reading. He's looking forward to working with you all this summer!

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...and more!

Stay tuned for guest speakers and instructors to be announced soon.

All of our instructors are talented members of the #1 debate team in the country at the University of Chicago.

Public Speaking & Persuasion Instructors

Our instructor are from the UChicago debate team, which ranked the #1 college debate club in the US. They have achieved tremendous success in college, winning the #1 Team of the Year, #1 Debate Club of the year, #1 Speaker of the Year, and National Champions in 2022-2023.

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Aidan Shannon

UChicago '25 | Economics, Public Policy

In high school, Aidan competed in Public Forum, reaching octofinals at NCFL Grand Nationals. His competitive record includes Top-6 placements at regional and state tournaments. Additionally, as captain of James Madison's debate team, Aidan led his team to competitive success by coaching students individually and in small groups.

 

As a coach, Aidan helps debaters develop sound argumentation and round adaptation abilities, prioritizing confidence above all.

 

Aidan looks forward to share his debate and public speaking experience with students of all backgrounds!

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Sarah Willrich

UChicago '26 | Public Policy, Political Science

After a brief stint with high school Public Forum, Sarah has found her true love of debate with APDA in college. As a member of Chicago Debate Society she has secured multiple top team and speaker placements at tournaments. With Jesenia, she placed 17th at APDA nationals this year.

Sarah loves debate for the people in it, and you can often find her discussing random case ideas late into the night with other members of the team. As a Peer Writing Tutor for UChicago, she enjoys explaining concepts and how to best convey them to students.

 

She's excited to show this year's students what about debate made her love it so much! 

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Helen Wu

UChicago '25 | Economics, Political Science (BA/MA)

Helen was captain of her high school debate team, competing in Public Forum. She placed 5th at the PA State Tournament and championed the Southern PA Debate League (SPDL).

 

In college, Helen is the President of UChicago's debate team. She was ranked the 8th overall team in the US,  championing Brown, Columbia, and NYU — the two largest tournaments of the year. Helen also won 5th place at the 2023 APDA Nationals and represented UChicago at Worlds in Belgrade and Madrid. This year, Helen was ranked the 25th best speaker and top 8 team in the world at 2024 Worlds in Vietnam!

As the founder of a successful summer camp, Helen loves  fostering connections with younger students!

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Pratyush Sharma

UChicago '27 | Economics, Computer Science

Pratyush was an avid delegate in MUNs in the MENA region for over 5 years, winning awards in over a dozen conferences. Within his school's MUN Club, he mentored over 50 students from Grades 6 to 9 for two years. Then as a secretariat member, he helped organize one of the MENA region's largest annual conference with over 1500 signups.

 

Upon entering UChicago, Pratyush has now pivoted to competitive debate. He is excited to join the CDA team and meet the incoming students!

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Jesenia Parthasarathy

UChicago '26 | Public Policy

In high school, Jesenia competed in Congressional Debate. She was also President of the National Honor Society and founder of her school's political magazine!

In college, Jesenia has made an exceptional name for herself, attending Nationals as only a freshman! She also competed in Novice Finals at Georgetown, while accumulating multiple speaker awards.

In her second year, Jesenia once again excelled in APDA, with multiple high placements at tournaments before placing as the 17th team at 2024 ADPA Nationals.

Jesenia looks forward to making lifelong bonds with all her students!

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...and more!

Stay tuned for guest speakers and instructors to be announced soon

All of our instructors are talented members of the #1 debate team in the country at the University of Chicago.

Executive Team

Meet the people behind the scenes working to bring debate to you!

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Sarah Willrich

Executive Director

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Aidan Shannon

Public Speaking & Persuasion Curricula Co-Director

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Julien Benchek

Public Forum Curricula Co-Director

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Jesenia Parthasarathy

Public Speaking & Persuasion Curricula Co-Director

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Jonathon Chen

Public Forum Curricula Co-Director

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Helen Wu

Marketing Director

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