ASU speech team repeat national champs

April 24, 2015

The Arizona State University Forensics (speech) team continued a remarkable awards season, repeating their National Championship in Division II of the President’s Sweepstakes at the National Forensics Association National Tournament.

The tournament was hosted April 16-20 at Ohio University. The National Forensics Association is one of the largest organizations for college speech in the country. ASU Forensics team Download Full Image

The tournament hosted over 75 schools for competition by more than 800 students in 11 public speaking events.

These events are divided into three categories:

• limited preparation events (Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking)
• public platform addresses (Persuasive, Informative, Rhetorical Criticism and After Dinner Speaking)
• interpretive events (Poetry, Prose, Dramatic and Duo)

The Arizona State team competing at the NFA tournament consisted of juniors Paxton Attridge, Frankie Marchi and James Qian, and freshman Abigail Toye.

The performances by the team were so strong that they more than doubled the score of the second place team in the division – tallying 160 points, compared to the University of Northern Iowa’s 76.

“Without contributions from every member of our team, this would not have been possible," said John Grimm, Forensics team coach. "The focus they’ve placed is on not only solid, rigorous argumentation, but also engaging the audience with the heart they put into each performance.”

“We’ve been told many times about the legacy of ASU Speech and have been frequently recognized by fellow competitors for ASU Speech’s alumni, but it feels like the competition will be recognizing the current team of ASU Speech from now on,” Marchi said.

In order to amass so many points with so few students, the team needed a number of standout performances. Each of the events the team entered had more than 115 entries, with some reaching nearly 200 competitors.

Leading the way, Qian finished in the top 5 places of two separate events, while carrying a third to semifinals – a top 12 finish – with a fourth event in quarterfinals (top 24). His 3rd place award in Extemporaneous Speaking and 5th place in Impromptu Speaking sent Qian to the 11th place overall individual speaker at the tournament.

“On the heels of winning a National Title in Impromptu Speaking just two weekends ago, Jimmy actually upped his game by carrying even more events into elimination rounds this weekend,” said Adam Symonds, director of Forensics. “To be recognized as the 11th overall speaker is, in many ways, even more difficult than winning a national championship in a single event. The dedication to a single event must be duplicated across several events to even be competitive.”

Attridge contributed a semifinals appearance in Impromptu Speaking and quarterfinals results in both Extemporaneous Speaking and Rhetorical Criticism.

“From a coach's perspective, Paxton is really the team leader. He’s in the squad room practically every time I am there,” said Symonds. “He’s always pushing the other students to practice more events and offers feedback. When someone as selfless as Paxton has a performance like this, it makes you really, really proud to be a coach.”

Marchi was a first-time elimination round participant – earning distinction with his Poetry performance – and carried the event all the way to the semifinals, unseating previous national champions along the way to a top 12 finish.

“There was a lot of buzz about Frankie’s poetry this weekend. He’s primed for a huge senior year,” Symonds said.

Lisa Robbins

Editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


ASU students turn research into action to help vets with PTSD

April 24, 2015

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2015, click here.

Sept. 11, 2002, was a proud day for Anthony “Doc” Ameen, one that he’ll never forget. One year to the day after the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center, Ameen swore an oath of enlistment in the U.S. Navy. Wings for Warriors presentation Download Full Image

July 28, 2008, is another date he’ll never forget. Ameen was serving as a hospital corpsman in Afghanistan when, while rushing to assist an injured Marine, he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost the lower half of his left leg.

Like thousands of other soldiers with similar experiences, Ameen dealt with post-traumatic stress after the incident.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, of those who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, between 11 and 20 percent have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a given year. That’s anywhere from 275,000 to 500,000 people, and it doesn’t include veterans of other wars.

Though progress has been made toward understanding and treating PTSD, there still remains a lack of sufficient resources for those seeking help.

Those were the findings of students in Arizona State University professor James Shraiky’s course on current issues in health design, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The students worked with non-profit organization Wings for Warriors, which Ameen founded, to interview veterans with PTSD (or, as they call it, PTS, preferring not to call it a “disorder”) and get feedback on their experiences with various health-care systems.

The collaboration came about when Shraiky – who for the past three years has been conducting research on long-term strategies to help vets cope with PTS – mentioned to a colleague that he was looking for a non-profit to work with for one of his classes. That colleague happened to know Ameen.

Shraiky showed Ameen some of the results from his studies, and “it was like fireworks,” Shraiky said. “We connected and [Ameen] said, ‘I would love to do a case study with you.’ ”

Biological sciences undergrad Alexandra Bohnenberger, a student in Shraiky’s class, said the class’ goal was to find gaps in veterans’ health care and see how to improve it.

“We listen to veterans’ voices and see what exactly the problem is when they come back; why their PTS is developing, what’s making it worse, what could make it better,” she said.

The students worked with Wings for Warriors to find veterans willing to speak with them on phone interviews. Afterward, they analyzed their responses using a “system map” that followed a timeline of events from when the veteran enlisted to the present day in order to identify when the “gap” in sufficient support occurred.

What they found was that the majority of the vets they spoke with had the most issues during the “reintegration” phase, readjusting to civilian life. The cause of that, they discovered, was a lack of resources.

At that point, their focus shifted.

“Initially, the case study was supposed to focus on designing a health-care system,” Shraiky said, “but now it has shifted more toward a call to action, [to encourage different health-care systems] to collaborate together.”

That’s also the goal of ASU’s new Center for Veterans’ Wellness, which conducts research and helps vets affected by combat-related stress and trauma. The center was established early in 2015 to draw together experts from a variety of disciplines across the university and its partner organizations to expand their work and develop new ideas.

On April 28, students from Shraiky’s class will present their findings at a panel discussion where such organizations as Healing Arizona Veterans, the Pat Tillman Foundation, American Veterans for Equal Rights and others will be in attendance.

The event takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the SRP Pera Club, 1 E. Continental Drive in Tempe. It is free and open to the public.

To learn more about Wings for Warriors, visit More information is available on the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU News

(480) 965-9657