Sophia Kuriscak first came to MDI in 2015 as a student. This year, she returns as an instructor.

While competing in LD for Visitation / St. Thomas Academy debate over five years, Sophia achieved success on both the local and national circuits. She brought home awards from many tournaments and invitationals, and in her senior year won the MSHSL Section 4 Tournament. She qualified to the MSHSL State Debate Tournament three times: As a sophomore, she made it to quarter-finals. As a senior, she fought her way to the final round.

Sophia is going to do an amazing job teaching at camp. She’s super smart — and she was a versatile debater, with knowledge spanning across wide range of debate styles and argument types. Pair those things with her excitement for mentoring younger debaters, and it’s clear that Sophia’s going to help take MDI to the next level. (Really, it’ll be great. You should be there.)

As per usual, I asked Sophia five questions about debate and debate camp. Here’s what she had to say:

Why did you join the debate team? Why did you stay?

Sophia: Ever since I was little I have always loved to argue with people and I have always loved to talk. So when I was thinking about activities to do in high school it seemed like a natural fit for me to join debate. When I was in 8th grade one of my friends was already on the team and asked me to join so I decided to join earlier than I thought. In the beginning I was terrified to come to practice because there were so many older kids and it seemed like I didn’t know anything and there was so much to learn. But then I went to my first tournament and I was hooked. Even though I didn’t do that well at my first tournament, I knew that I loved debating and wanted to continue with the activity.

You attended MDI as a student last year. What did you gain from that experience?

Sophia: Attending MDI taught me so many things that really helped me as a debater. MDI really helped me grow on the local circuit. It helped teach me the skills that helped me increase my skill on the local level. MDI also made me familiar with a lot more people on the local circuit, so going to tournaments after that, I always knew so many people that I didn’t know before.

What’s the most important thing you learned from your time in debate?

Sophia: The most important thing that I learned in debate is being confidence. I struggle a lot with self confidence and debate has really helped me with that. With debate it is so important to be confident in round, and if you are not confident you are not going to win as many rounds. So being in debate forced me to essentially fake it till I make it. I really had to make myself appear confident to others so then I would appear more credible in round and win more ballots.

Who is your favorite philosopher?

Sophia: Honestly, I am kind of torn on this one. If I am picking an all time favorite, I have got to go with Mill. Util is one of the first things that I ran and one of my staples that I ran throughout my debate career. It is not the most interesting philosophy but I think it is a reliable framework you can run often.

What excites you most about MDI 2k17?

Sophia: I am really excited to see how MDI grows even more this year. The difference from the first year I went to MDI and the second year were crazy, the camp got much bigger and was a lot different. So I can’t imagine how awesome MDI is going to get this year. I am mostly really excited to be able to work with younger debaters and help teach them skills they need in order to succeed.

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