Sophie, who competed for Mahtomedi High School and attended MDI as a debater, is now a freshman at Yale University. There, she’s majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics — a trio of subjects I like to call “debate.”
As a debater, Sophie excelled. With just three years participating in the activity, she qualified to the MSHSL State Tournament not once, but twice. In her junior year, she was a semi-finalist. In her senior year, she took runner-up — and won the MDTA Cup, an award based on consistent success all season long.
Sophie’s more than just an excellent debater: She’s thoughtful, conscientious, and eager to make the world a better place, as shown through her work on several advocacy teams at Yale. These traits will translate into incredible teaching talent at MDI — I know she’ll work well with debaters from an diversity of backgrounds. (So if you want to learn from her, register!)
As we always do with new staff, I asked Sophie five questions about her experience in debate, her experience at MDI, and what she’s looking forward to this year. Let’s go:
Why did you join the debate team? Why did you stay?
Sophie: I joined the debate team because I was bored academically and looking for a challenge somewhere in my life. I also was very self conscious about public speaking and saw debate as a way to change that. I stayed with debate because I loved the challenge of creating unique cases then developing arguments on the spot.
You attended MDI as a student last year. What did you gain from that experience?
Sophie: I attended MDI twice and grew a lot both years. Content wise, MDI was one of the few times where a space is set aside to outline the common philosophical approaches used in LD debate; otherwise, debaters are expected to pick it up on the fly. Another thing I learned that was really helpful was Andrew’s “winning strategy.” A debate flow can be overwhelming when you only have four minutes to tackle it in round, so walking into every round already having a plan of how I would win the round was the best thing I learned at MDI for both increasing my confidence as well as actually helping me win rounds.
What’s the most important thing you learned from your last three years in debate?
Sophie: The most important thing I learned is that every situation is best handled with self-confidence and a “next-time” attitude. Losing badly, confidence will help you make the best of the round, and a forward gaze will help you stay competitive. Winning handily, confidence enables you to be kind to your opponents, and looking forward reminds you that current success in no way guarantees future ease. It’s easy to draw comparisons between these situations and the rest of your life.
Who is your favorite philosopher?
Sophie: As a true college freshman, I have really enjoyed Nietzsche and Marx. Both authors push against the conventions of society and have forced me to see the world differently.
What excites you most about MDI 2k17?
Sophie: For me, MDI was a space to experiment with new frameworks, try risky kinds of arguments, and meet new friends. I’m really looking forward to going through these exciting experiences again vicariously through the next group of MDI campers!