The Moraine Valley Community College Speech and Debate Team completed another winning season with a third consecutive national championship last month. This win is the seventh in the program’s 22-year history.

The students competed among 400 others from 50 community colleges across the  U.S. Prior to this championship, Moraine Valley won the Phi Rho Pi Regional Tournament and took third place at the Illinois Intercollegiate State Tournament.

Members of the national championship Moraine Valley Community College Speech and Debate Team include (front row, from left) Juno Granados, Kandyce Swain, Oswaldo Ocampo and Marel Doon; (back row, from left) Omar Uwainat, James Murphy, Julian Zubrzycki, Ali Balcazar and Aaron Lopez.

“It was a very emotional experience, to think of all the work that was put in. It was so worth it in the end,” said team member Aaron Lopez, of Bridgeview.

The following students placed at the national tournament:

Kandyce Swain, of Blue Island – gold medal in informative and persuasive speaking; silver in speech to entertain; recognized as No. 5 speaker in the nation

Oswaldo Ocampo, of Burbank – gold in persuasion; bronze in prose and program of oral interpretation

Ali Balcazar, of Burbank – silver in impromptu and extemporaneous speaking

Aaron Lopez – bronze in persuasion, communication analysis and speech to entertain

Marel Doon, of Chicago Ridge – bronze in informative speaking

James Murphy, of Justice – bronze in prose interpretation

Omar Uwainat, of Burbank – bronze in prose interpretation and extemporaneous speaking

Additional Moraine Valley students on the team include Juno Granados, of Hometown, and Julian Zubrzycki, of Chicago.

Following the tournament, Ocampo and a former Speech Team member and current Moraine Valley student, Aidan McGuire, of Mokena, competed at the National Forensics Association Tournament, which is open to all four-year colleges and universities as well as community colleges in the U.S. This was the first time Moraine Valley was represented at a university-level national forensics competition. Their collective finishes earned the college second place in the Small School Division and first place in the Community College Division.

“The level of competition I saw there forever changed me. It was humbling,” Ocampo said. “I was proud just to be there.”

“This team has bonded over the creative process. They’ve supported each other through the entire season,” said Krista Appelquist, co-coach and Moraine Valley communications professor.


For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist/sport information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or