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Michael Deiana, Corrie Farbstein Take Top Honors at Westmont Speech, Debate Tournament

The debate finalists pose with Omedi Ochieng and Jean Svoboda.

The debate finalists pose with Omedi Ochieng and Jean Svoboda.  (Westmont College photo)

By Scott Craig for Westmont College |

Sophomore Michael Deiana and junior Corrie Farbstein won top honors at the 17th annual Tournament of Expressions on Feb. 5 at Westmont College.

Deiana, a psychology major from Phoenix, Ariz., debated junior Katie Landis about whether the United States should ban the use of fossil fuels. Organizers didn’t reveal the topic until moments before the debate, emphasizing mental agility, critical thinking and public speaking skills.

Farbstein, a communication studies major from San Mateo, was the winner of Great Speeches, delivering Naomi Wolf’s 1992 Scripps College commencement address, “A Woman’s Place.” Amy Hamilton, Katherine Kwong and Rebecca Shasberger were runners-up.

The winners received $200 each, while the runners-up received $100.

The tournament originated with a gift from Montecito residents Bob and Jean Svoboda, who sought to inspire and reward active civic involvement among college students.

“The theme of the tournament is passion and civility since the Svobodas and the faculty wanted students to be passionate about their ideas while also modeling civility in public discourse,” said Omedi Ochieng, an associate professor of communication studies who directs the tournament.

Kelly Schon, a CPA who works as a financial reporting manager at Kaplan International North America; Diana Jessup Lee, a partner at Reicker, Pfau, Pyle and McRoy law firm in Santa Barbara; Anthony Davis ’96, Santa Barbara County deputy district attorney, and Lesa Stern, chair of the Westmont Communication Studies Department, judged the competition.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.




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