Communication Studies > Summer Camps > UTNIF Individual Events > Meet the Individual Events Staff

Meet the Individual Events Staff

Note: Staff information from 2017 programs. We project most of these staff returning, but updated staff listings will be completed once staff positions are confirmed for 2018.

Extemp & Congress

Jon Carter

Curriculum Director for Extemp


Dr. Jonathan Carter (M.A. Illinois State University; PhD University of Nebraska at Lincoln) is the former Co-Director of Individual Events at Illinois State University and an incoming faculty member at Eastern Michigan University. A graduate of Northwestern University, he appeared in seven national final rounds -- including two as national runner up in Extemp and the NFA national championship in Persuasive Speaking. As a coach at both Western Kentucky University and Illinois State University previously, Jon has helped to coach over 200 national out-rounds competitors, including 66 national finalists and 18 national champions. After years of working at both the Illinois State University Summer Forensics Institute and the Northwestern University High School Institute, he is excited to return for his sixth summer at UTNIF.

Carolyn Evans

Assistant Curriculum Director for Extemp

Portrait Evans

Carolyn Evans graduated from Des Moines Roosevelt High School in 2013 and Western Kentucky University in 2016. As a college competitor, Carolyn was recognized as the 2014 NFA national champion and the 2016 AFA national champion in extemporaneous speaking.  She was also a finalist in impromptu speaking at both national tournaments in 2014 and again in 2016.  Before her college career, she was a semi finalist in extemp and a finalist in impromptu at the 2013 NSDA national tournament, the runner up in extemp at the 2013 UK Tournament of Champions, and the impromptu champion at the 2013 Extemp Tournament of Champions.  Carolyn currently resides in Arizona, where she is a PhD student at Arizona State University and a coach at Phoenix Country Day School.  A proud UTNIF alum, Carolyn is excited to be back in Austin for another summer!

Farrah Bara


Farrah Bara was a ten time national champion for the University of Texas, winning three national titles in Extemporaneous Speaking. She was twice the AFA top speaker and also the NFA Pentathlon champion. A former captain of Texas Speech majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and later coach, she was the 2014 & 2016 National Runner-Up in Extemporaneous Speaking at the American Forensic Association national tournament, 2015 & 2016 AFA National Champion in Communication Analysis, twice the NFA national runner-up in Rhetorical Criticism, and the record holder as top speaker at the AFA national contest. A three time UIL state finalist in high school and an UTNIF alumna and five year staff member, she begins her career at Duke University Law School next Fall.

Neal White

Congress Coordinator


Neal White graduated from Lake Travis High School in 2011, where he competed in Extemporaneous Speaking, Public Forum, Original Oratory, and Congressional Debate. A top-fifteen finisher in the Extemp National Points Race and NFL/NSDA semifinalist in high school, Neal went on to serve as a public speaking consultant for his alma-mater throughout college, coaching multiple state finalists and champions in a variety of events. Neal graduated from the University of Texas in the Spring of 2015, and currently teaches Speech and Debate and Professional Communications at Plano Senior High School. At his school, Neal is a part of a team of coaches that, in 2015-2016, coached the 3rd and 5th place finishers at the Capital City Round Robin, the extemporaneous speaking champion of the Harvard Tournament, and the TFA State Runner-Up in Foreign Extemp.

Ben Gaddis


Ben Gaddis is the graduate assistant director of Texas Speech and a doctoral student at the University of Texas, where he coaches all three genres of competition. Ben’s students have performed in multiple national out rounds and finals at the collegiate level. As a high school coach his students have seen multiple state finals, national out rounds, and finals. Over the past six years, Ben has worked at multiple forensics camps coaching high school students and thrives in teaching the creative process and the path to intellectual discovery. A native of the Chicago-land area, he has received training from some of the greatest minds in sketch and improv, which he actively uses in his instruction. Ben looks forward to collaborating once again with the students of UTNIF. A graduate of Bradley University with dual degrees in Political Science and Communication, Benjamin saw out rounds in all three genres of competition, was named an American Forensics Association All-American, and was part of a team that won 5 overall national team titles. In his time with Texas Speech, he has been a part of a staff helping to coach 30 national titles over the last three years alone. 

Jamie Downing

Dr. Jamie Downing (M.A. Illinois State University; PhD University of Nebraska--Lincoln) is an incoming faculty member at Georgia College and State University. At Illinois State University and the University of Nebraska, Jamie coached numerous national out-round competitors. As a coach at University High School in Normal, Illinois, Jamie worked with state finalists and champions, as well as NSDA qualifiers and finalists. After having spent years working at Illinois State University Summer Forensics Institute, University of Nebraska Speech Camp, and the Northwestern University High School Institute, Jamie looks forward to joining the UTNIF staff in Austin this summer!

Jason Warren

Jason Warren

Jason Warren (M.A.), also an UTNIF alum, graduated in 2004 from Northwestern University, where he won both the AFA and NFA National Championships in Extemporaneous Speaking. Among his many high school accolades, Jason was the TFA state champion in US Extemp, the UIL state champion in Informative Speaking, winner of the Emory Barkley Forum, winner of the Glenbrooks, and the first extemper to reach the final round of the MBA round robin twice. As a college coach for both the University of Texas-Austin and George Mason University, his students and former students have won a combined 11 national titles in extemporaneous speaking, including a close-out of the top four finishers at the AFA national tournament in 2010. Jason currently coaches at the Parish Episcopal School of Dallas, where his students have won four state championships, reached the final rounds of both the Congress and Extemp TOC, won team sweepstakes at the TOC Extemp hosted by Northwestern, and been recognized as the runner-up and final round presiding officer at NSDA in Congressional Debate. Jason also serves as the Treasurer of the Texas Forensics Association. In his day job, he works for Edmentum, a national educational technology company and the makers of Study Island. 

Alishan Alibhai

Alishan Alibhai's portrait

Alishan is a recent graduate of the University of Texas, double majoring in Plan II Honors and Government. He was a four time national finalist in extemporaneous speaking at the AFA National tournament, the national runner-up in Impromptu Speaking, and a 3rd place finisher in Persuasive Speaking, among many other accolades which include a 6th overall speaker award from the American Forensic Association. In 2013, he graduated from Plano East Senior High school, where he competed in Original Oratory and Domestic Extemp, and advanced to outrounds at Harvard, Stanford, and TFA State. Alishan is excited to spend the summer in Austin and have the opportunity to work with UTNIF students again before departing for Duke University to begin law school. 

Colin Malinak

Colin Malinak is the Upper School Debate Teacher at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas. As a college competitor and officer for the University of Texas at Austin, he advanced to out rounds in both interpretation and public speaking events. He has had the privilege of coaching students to Glenbrooks, Barkley Forum, Harvard, TFA, NSDA and ETOC finals across multiple debate and public speaking events. He has had extempers invited to the Montgomery Bell Academy Extemporaneous Speaking Round Robin as well as the Capital City Round Robin. As a former middle school coach, he is honored to have coached back-to-back teams to Schools of Excellence in Speech at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament (2014, 2015), including national champions in Humorous, Dramatic, and Poetry Interpretation, with multiple finals in virtually every competitive individual event. As a high school coach, he is honored to have coached his team last year to a Speech School of Excellence award as well as last year’s William Woods Tate, Jr. National Student of the Year. He is currently serving as the Vice President-Elect of the Texas Speech and Communication Association, and has worked to help found the Summer Forensics Institute Scholarship Fund as well as the Texas Junior Speech and Debate Association.


Mickey Cox

Curriculum Director for Oratory

Mickey Cox's portrait

Mickey is an Assistant Director of Texas Speech and a doctoral student in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. A graduate of George Mason University, Mickey also completed his Master's program and then continued as a full-time lecturer and coach at Mason before returning to Austin, where he was an alumnus of the UTNIF. In 2015, Mickey was the coach of both the AFA & NFA national championships in Informative Speaking and co-coach of students who won national championships in Communication Analysis and Persuasive Speaking. In 2016 he again coached the AFA & NFA national champion in Informative speaking, as well as the national champion in Persuasive speaking, and the 2016 AFA national championship team. Mickey is delighted to return UTNIF to continue running the Oratory curriculum! 

Jessica Rauchberg

Jess is a recent graduate of George Mason University in Conflict Analysis & Resolution and Communication. As a member of GMU’s team, Jess competed in all three genres, specializing in Interp and Public Address. In her college career, Jess reached finals at the L.E. Norton, Hell Froze Over, the International Championship, and the inaugural National Speech Championship, as well as several elimination rounds rounds at the AFA NIET. As a high school competitor, Jess was an NCFL qualifier and reached semifinal rounds at NJ State, the GMU Patriot Games, and the NYC Invitational. This fall, she will begin a graduate teaching assistantship with the University of South Florida’s Department of Communication. After working GMIF for 3 summers, Jess is excited to join the UTNIF staff for the first time and work with its brilliant students. 


Casey Garcia

Curriculum Director for Interp

Casey Garcia's portrait

Casey Garcia is a full time Professor of Speech, Theatre and Humanities at Houston’s LSC-North Harris College. In the past two decades, Casey served as a Director or Assistant Director of Forensics at some of this nation’s top collegiate forensics programs, including George Mason University, Mount San Antonio College, LSC-North Harris, as well as coaching at UT Austin at various points throughout his coaching career. While competing for UT, Casey was a national champion in Dramatic Duo, 3rd overall speaker, a national runner up in Dramatic Interpretation, and possesses other national finalist honors. During his coaching tenure, he has coached numerous national champions at the college and high school level. He was the coach of the 2010 NFA National Champions in Duo Interpretation for UT Austin, the coach of the 2012 AFA National Champion in Dramatic Interpretation for North Harris, and the top performing students in Dramatic Interpretation at the Phi Rho Pi national tournament in 2012 & 2013. In 2016, he had the pleasure of helping to coach the TFA State Champions in DI and DUO. This year he coached finalists in DI, DUO and DUET ACTING at TFA, NIETOC and the Kentucky TOC. 

Ryan Tinlin

Tinlin's portrait

Ryan Tinlin is a graduate of Bradley University and is the former Director of Individual Events at Lewis and Clark College. He joined the Texas Speech coaching staff in 2016. As a competitor Ryan advanced to 13 national final rounds including finals in all Public Address events as well as various Prose and Duo finals. He was a top 5 individual speaker at AFA and NFA his senior year as well a national champion in Informative Speaking. Ryan has worked at various camps the last 7 years and has coached multiple state finalists, state champions, and national finalists in interpretation events. This is his third year working at UTNIF.

Mike Tristano

Mike Tristano's portrait

Mike Tristano graduated from Illinois State University with his MS and is a current PhD student at Arizona State University. As a graduate student at ISU, Mike helped coach multiple collegiate competitors to quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds in both interpretation and public address events, including 2 national champions in DI and Duo. He is currently a coach at Phoenix Country Day School and a previous coach at University High School in Normal, IL. At both programs, Mike has worked with dozens of state champions, NSDA qualifiers, and several NSDA finalists and champions across all individual events. During his time as a collegiate competitor, he saw numerous outrounds in both public address and interpretation events. A multiple national finalist, Mike was the 2013 NFA national champion in Duo Interpretation (with Robi Mahan) and a top 15 national speaker. A veteran of the Illinois State University Summer Forensics Institute, this will be Mike's fourth year at UTNIF and he could not be more excited to return to Austin! 

Rachael Phipps

Rachael Phipps's portrait

An alumna of the University of Texas as Austin, graduated with a B.A. in English, Rachael Phipps is currently putting that degree to use teaching high school English at Granada Hills Charter High School, in Granada Hills, CA. While competing for both the University of Texas at Austin and Mount San Antonio College speech teams, Rachael saw multiple national outrounds in both public speaking and interpretation events at the AFA and NFA national tournaments. As a freshman, Rachael became the 2007 AFA-NIET National Champion in Program Oral Interpretation and 19th overall speaker. To bookend her collegiate speech career, Rachael placed 4th in Program Oral Interpretation and 3rd in Communication Analysis at the 2010 AFA national tournament. From 2007 to the present, Rachael has coached at multiple high schools and speech camps across the nation, including UTNIF and GMIF. As an educator at GHCHS, Rachael most recently coached the public speaking events for the 2017 United States Academic Decathlon National Champions for the third consecutive year, along with a California state champion in Original Advocacy. Rachael is beyond thrilled to bring this enthusiasm to UTNIF, where her love of teaching and coaching high school aged students all began. 

Alex Bergeron

Alex Bergeron portrait

Alex Bergeron is a Corporate Communication Major at the Moody College of Communication and coach for Texas Speech. A transfer from Lone Star College North Harris, Alex has competed in multiple out rounds which included, prose, poetry, duo interpretation, reader's theater and parliamentary debate. He was part of the national championship team at the American Reader's Theater national contest in Los Angeles, California. He was a national finalist in prose at the AFA national tournament as part of the national championship team performance in 2016. A graduate of Magnolia High School, Alex competed in a wide variety of events on the Texas High School circuit including, extemp, oratory, dramatic and humorous interpretation, public forum and poetry. He is really looking forward to coming back to UTNIF interp and having another wonderful summer.

Robi Mahan

Robi Mahan's portrait

Robi Mahan just completed the past year as part of the coaching staff of Texas Speech. Formerly the Assistant Director of Individual Events at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, she is a graduate of Illinois State University where she won three national championships, holding titles in After Dinner Speaking (AFA 2013), Dramatic Interpretation (AFA 2014), and Duo (NFA 2013 with Mike Tristano.) Robi formerly coached at Harrisburg High School, and has spent the last 6 summers working with the Summer Speech Institute at ISU where she heads the Original Comedy lab. This is her second summer at UTNIF and she couldn’t be more excited. In January, she will begin her master's program in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Adam Benoit

Adam Benoit is originally from Lafayette, Louisiana.  Adam has been involved in the speech and debate community for the past 15 years.  Adam is an UTNIF alumni and attended camp in 2002. He attended Teurlings Catholic High School and competed in numerous debate, acting, and speaking events.  Adam is a national runner up in duo interpretation with N.C.F.L. and the state champion in duet acting both in 2003.  He has also been in multiple out rounds at N.F.L. and the Louisiana State Tournament.  He was a competitor in college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  Mr. Benoit is currently teaching in Houston, Texas.  He was a former speech and debate coach from Langham Creek High School and ran the team for 5 years.  While coaching he had students in final rounds at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions and students that have qualified for N.S.D.A. Adam loves all acting events especially team events.  He believes that teamwork and collaboration is the best way to communicate successfully.  He also loves coaching Oratory and Public Forum Debate.  He is currently teaching 6th grade English at Anthony Middle School and pursuing his master’s degree in Library Science.

Additional Staff 

Christine Vo (Congress)

Vo Portrait

Christine Vo is a rising sophomore at UT Austin, double majoring in Philosophy and Humanities. In high school, Christine was a three-time qualifier to NSDA Nationals, three-time outbound competitor at TFA State, Harvard semi-finalist, and a Capital City Round Robin invitee. Graduating from Spring Woods High School, she was a nominee for NSDA's Student of the Year as a senior. Being a former UTNIF camper, Christine is excited to reconnect with the debate community and help speakers learn!

Cimmi Alvarez (Oratory)

Cimmi Alvarez's portrait

Cimmi is a senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She is majoring in psychology with a minor in communication studies. Competing in extemp, LD, and CX in high school, she was excited to continue her journey as a member of the UT Speech Team. She enjoys competing in Persuasive, Informative, After Dinner Speaking, and Rhetorical Criticism. This year she was a octafinalist in Rhetorical Criticism at the NFA national tournament. Cimmi is excited to have the opportunity to coach this summer at UTNIF, where she will be working primarily with Oratory! 

Dyana Martinez (Extemp)

Dyana Martinez is a rising sophomore studying Government at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Texas Speech team’s Limited Preparation events captain for the 2017-2018 season. As a high schooler, Dyana was a state finalist in DX and a quarterfinalist at the Extemp TOC, but also enjoyed competing in FX, OO, INFO, and PF. During her time in college forensics, Dyana qualified multiple events to both the AFA and NFA national tournaments, reaching outrounds in EXT, CA, and INFO. Never having been a camper at UTNIF, Dyana is excited to experience camp for the first time as a staffer, and is ready to make your time here a blast!

Abigail Onwunali (Interp)

Abigail is a rising senior at The University of Texas at Austin majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences (Pre-Med). She was a 2015 AFA national finalist in Prose and 2015 NFA national finalist in Poetry. She was the 2016 AFA champion in Dramatic Interpretation and the 2016 NFA champion in Prose, Poetry and Dramatic Interpretation. In 2017 she was awarded a whopping 5 national titles covering four different performance genres. In high school, Abigail was the NSDA National Champion in Dramatic Interpretation and won many other national circuit tournaments including the 2014 Harvard Invitational, 2013 Patriot Games, and 2014 Emory Invitational. In Texas, Abigail was the 2014 TFA champion in Dramatic Interpretation, 2014 Poetry champion at U.I.L State and 2013 Prose finalist at U.I.L state. Joining the UTNIF staff for a third time, she is excited to work with students and competitors of the Interp Division. 

Dani Soibelman (Extemp)


Dani Soibelman is a rising senior on the Texas Speech Team. Majoring in Communication Studies, Dani competes in limited preparation, interpretation, and public address events. After her third year of competition, she is a national outrounder in all three event categories, but specializes in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking. She currently serves as the National Student Representative for the National Forensics Association. Dani is passionate about accessible rhetoric, powerful delivery, and finding humour in every extemp.

Seis Steves (Interp)

Steves Portrait

Seis is a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin where he is studying Advertising and English. In college speech, he has participated in multiple national outrounds in ADS, Prose, Poetry, DI, and Duo. He was also a 2017 AFA national finalist in After Dinner Speaking.In high school, Seis was the NSDA National runner-up in Duo Interpretation, winning the final round. Also, Seis participated in multiple final rounds at the NIETOC tournament, including events such as Humorous, Duo, and Duet Interpretation. In Texas, Seis was the 2015 TFA champion in Humorous Interpretation, the 2014 TFA champion in Duo Interpretation, and the 2013 runner-up in Dramatic Interpretation. He looks forward to helping students develop themselves as competitors and artists.

Jordan Auzenne (Extemp)

Jordan Auzenne's portrait

Jordan Auzenne is a rising junior on the Texas Speech team double-majoring in Political Communication and Radio-Television-Film. In her time with UT Speech, she's seen several national final and elimination rounds, including finals in Extemp and CA at the L.E. Norton and HFO, and semi finals in both Impromptu and CA at the NFA NIET. In her career at Pflugerville High School, she competed in Extemp, Impromptu, Oratory, Congress, and Prose. She saw semi finals at Harvard, the NIETOC, and TFA State, and outrounds at the UK TOC and NSDA. As an UTNIF alumna herself, Jordan can't wait to return to camp for another summer!

Mary Claire Phillips (Oratory & Interp)

Mary Claire is a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin double majoring in Government and History in the Liberal Arts Honors program. She competed four years with Coppell High School and qualified for both the NFL National tournament and TOC Oratory Round Robin. Mary Claire is approaching her fourth year with Texas Speech and competes in all three genres. She advanced to quarter finals at the AFA-NIET in After Dinner Speaking, Informative, and Duo Interpretation. After spending a semester with the Frank Denius Normandy Scholars program and traveling abroad for the first part of the summer, she looks forward to packing up her bags and moving to Washington DC for a semester with the Archer Center.

Sabrina Savoie (Oratory)

Sabrina Savoie is a rising sophomore on the Texas Speech Team, double majoring in Government and Spanish in the Liberal Arts Honors Program. As a freshman Sabrina was an AFA qualifier in Persuasive Speaking and competed at the National Forensics Association Tournament. Graduating from Lake Travis High School, she was a two time TFA State semi-finalist in Original Oratory and an out-round competitor at the NIETOC. Sabrina adored her camp experience and is looking forward to showing this year's campers the joy that can be found in speech.

Bradley Wascher (Extemp)

Wascher Portrait

Bradley Wascher is a rising sophomore at Western Kentucky University, where he studies Political Science. As a high school extemper at Saint James School in Alabama, he reached elimination rounds of Wake Forest, Blue Key, Emory, the UK Tournament of Champions, and the Extemp TOC, while also bringing home two state championships. Additionally, Bradley is a two-time NSDA national finalist in Extemp Commentary, placing third in 2015 and winning in 2016. During his freshman year of college, he advanced to the AFA final round of Extemp and out-rounds of Extemp and Impromptu at NFA. A former UTNIF camper, Bradley is excited to be back in Austin to help the next generation of speakers!

Angelo Gaunichaux (Extemp)

Gaunichaux Portrait

Angelo is a junior at UT Austin. He studies journalism with a focus on policy and government. He is a national NFA out rounder in informative speaking and an AFA qualifier in ADS and Impromptu. In high school, he led his team for two years and helped them reach the top 10 percent of competitive speech high schools in the nation. He was a TFA qualifier in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and a state semifinalist in Extemporaneous Speaking. Currently, he interns for the McCombs Center for Global Business where he writes about international relations and economics. He looks forward to using his experiences to help campers cultivate their limited prep skills and grow as public speakers! 

Sarah Courville (Interp)

Sarah will be a junior on the Texas Speech team. At The University of Texas at Austin, she is majoring in public relations with a minor in business. In college speech, Sarah has competed in duo interpretation, dramatic interpretation, and prose interpretation. At the NFA national tournament, Sarah was an out-round competitor in duo interpretation. While in high school, Sarah competed in most interp events. She was a state out-round competitor for dramatic interpretation, prose, and humorous interpretation. Sarah attended NSDA with humorous interpretation her senior year. This is Sarah's first year working UTNIF and is super excited to spend it working with great students. 

Rohan Vaidya (Extemp)

Vaidya Portrait

Rohan Vaidya is a rising sophomore on the Texas speech team, double majoring in Government and History. During his freshman year, he was a quarter-finalist in Extemp at NFA Nationals, placing him in the Top 24 in the nation. In high school, Rohan was a three-time qualifier to NSDA Nationals, three-time outbound competitor at TFA State, Emory semi-finalist and Churchill champion, and a Capital City Round Robin invitee. He is looking forward to working with students this summer!

Maxim Belov (Extemp & Congress)

Belov Portrait

Maxim Belov is a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin where he is pursuing a degree in Economics and Finance. Graduating from Lake Travis High School in 2015, Maxim was a multiple state finalist in Extemporaneous and Congressional Debate, was a quarterfinalist in extemp at the TOC, and finished off his senior year with Congressional Debate at NSDA. On the collegiate level, Maxim competes primarily in the limited preparation and public address events. This year he qualified all his events to both national tournaments, where he reached octofinals in Communication Analysis and quarterfinals in Extemp. Maxim likes it when things are efficient.

Carlos Diaz (Interp)

Diaz Portrait

Carlos Diaz is a rising sophomore on the Texas Speech team, double majoring in Government and Mexican American Studies. During his freshmen year, he competed in both AFA and NFA national tournaments. Graduating from Spring Woods High School, he was a three time TFA state outbound competitor. His senior year, Carlos was the 2016 TFA state and TOC champion in DUO acting. He hopes to make camp for the students a life changing experience just like it was for him. 

Danielle Castillo (Interp)

Castillo Portrait

Danielle is an upcoming Junior on the Texas Speech Team. She is majoring in Political Communication. In high school, Danielle competed in Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Poetry, and Prose. In Texas, Danielle attended the 2015 UIL state meet in poetry and was an out-rounder in poetry at 2015 TFA state. Danielle qualified Dramatic Interpretation in 2015 for NSDA where she was an out-rounder in Poetry. In her time at UT Speech, Danielle has qualified Prose, Poetry, and Program Oral Interpretation to AFA. As an UTNIF Interp alumna and first time staffer, Danielle looks forward to helping students bring audiences closer to their messages! 

Govinda Dass (General Assistant)

Dass Portrait

Govinda is a rising Senior on the Texas Speech team,a transfer student at the University of Texas, he is majoring in English and Sociology. Govinda reached out rounds at the NFA national tournament in After Dinner Speaking. Although specializing in ADS, Govinda competes in Informative Speaking, POI, and Limited Preparation events. In High School, he competed primarily in Original Oratory and Extemp. A prominent joke writer, Govinda hopes to pair his lighthearted personality and organizational skills to keep campers on track towards their final goals.

Spencer Buckner (Extemp & Congress)

Spencer Buckner is an incoming Plan II and Government major at UT, and competed for Lake Travis High School. During his time there, Spencer became the school’s first invitee to the MBA Extemp Round Robin, where he placed 7th overall. In addition, Spencer placed 3rd at the TFA State tournament in Foreign Extemp, 1st at the statewide Capital City Extemp Round Robin, and 4th at the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions. In Congressional Debate, Spencer placed 2nd at the UIL State meet, and was the TFA State Champion of 2017. As an UTNIF alum, Spencer is both excited and honored to give back to such a wonderful community of debaters, and can't wait to get started!

Caleb Newton (Extemp & Congress)

Caleb is a rising freshman at the University of Texas at Austin where he will be studying government. Competing for James Bowie High School Caleb was the champion of Churchill and Capitol City Congress. On the state level he was a 2016 UIL state finalist and a two time TFA state finalist, placing 5th his senior year. On the national level he was a two time semi-finalist at the Glenbrooks tournament, a semi-finalist at the Tournament of Champions, and an NSDA finalist. As an UTNIF alum himself, Caleb is excited to be able to be able to come back and help teach!

Randy Cox

Curriculum Director for IE


Randy Cox is the Director of Texas Speech and one of the founders of the UT National Institute in Forensics. A Distinguished Service Award recipient for the American Forensic Association NIET and former national champion himself, his students have been graced with 59 individual national titles at both the high school and collegiate levels, and have also been awarded national team titles including the NFL/NSDA Bruno E. Jacob cumulative trophy, the NCFL Masterson and Founders awards, as well as five American Forensic Association NIET team titles, the most recent in 2017. As a former high school coach at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, his students appeared in NFL & NCFL national final rounds 22 times over a five year term, winning three national titles. He has been awarded both the prestigious University of Texas Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award (2013) and the Moody College of Communication Teaching Excellence Award (2013). He joins Debate Director Joel Rollins and Interp Curriculum Director Casey Garcia having been a part of every UTNIF summer since the institute began in 1994, having founded the Lincoln-Douglas Debate program and taught in every curriculum division of the individual events camp.