Staff listings being updated on a continuing basis!
Come work with some of the top coaches in forensics! Our staff represents the highest levels of competitive accomplishment and education. No matter your incoming level or your future competitive goals, we have the staff that can help you reach for your dreams, be they competitive, performative, or educational. Our staff includes not only former national finalists and champions at both the high school and collegiate levels, but coaches of multiple national champions.
Interested? Apply Now!
Note: Staff listings are projected and subject to change. These listings do not include all staff. All staff are subject to final contractual approval by the University of Texas and passage of a criminal background check and can change without notice.
Meet Our Staff
Terran Duhon - Curriculum Director for Oratory/Informative (2022)
Terran Duhon began his speech career in middle school and fell in love with the activity. As a student at San Antonio's Reagan HS, he was the recipient of the Perfect Performance top speaker award at the 2011 NIETOC, winning the NIETOC championship in Original Oratory. Speech eventually carried him into college as a member of both the San Antonio College speech team and the UT Speech Team where he was a multiple national out-rounder in both the Public Speaking and Interpretation categories. He now teaches Speech at St. Mary's Hall in San Antonio, Texas, and could not imagine a better job than helping students realize their passion for activism and performance. In 2022, Terran's students were recognized as the TFA State Champions in BOTH Informative Speaking and Original Oratory!
Ben Gaddis - Curriculum Director for Extemp/Congress (2022)
Ben is a former assistant director of Texas Speech and the current Director of Forensics at Trinity Preparatory School in Florida. A graduate of Bradley University and also an alumnus of the graduate program in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, he brings an extensive background and approach to coaching individual events. Ben has coached at numerous national high school camps and workshops over the years, and is excited to return once again to his role helping to coordinate the Extemp curriculum and to serving the students of UTNIF. In his time with Texas Speech, he was part of a staff that helped to coach over 40 national titles, including three AFA national team titles. Beyond his collegiate experience, the students he has coached in high school Extemp have made numerous finals at national competitions, and have gone deep into outrounds at NSDA and the UK TOC. In 2022, Ben was the coach of the Florida State Runner Up in International Extemp as well as a state champion in Informative Speaking.
Eva Margarita - Curriculum Director for Interpretation (2022)
Eva is a doctoral student in Rhetoric & Language and is an assistant director for Texas Speech, where she was the lead coach for the 2021 NFA national championship by Kimberly Lee in Prose Interpretation. She recently completed her Master of Arts in Performance Studies at New York University. Having previously competed at Concordia University Irvine and Los Angeles City College, Eva has been in national out rounds for Rhetorical Criticism, Informative Speaking, and Drama, with national final round performances in Prose, Poetry, and Duo. She was a top 15 overall speaker for the National Forensic Association tournament and top 20 overall speaker for the American Forensic Association. As a multi-faceted performance artist herself, Eva cares deeply about building pieces with students that pierce imaginaries to create new worlds.
Randy Cox - Overall Curriculum Director (2022)
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 National Speech Tournament and former national champion himself, his students have been graced with 85 individual national titles at both the high school and collegiate levels, and have also been awarded multiple national team titles including the NSDA Bruno E. Jacob cumulative trophy, the NFA Founders Award cumulative title, the NCFL Masterson and Founders awards, as well as seven American Forensic Association national team titles, the most recent in 2022. As a former high school NSDA Diamond 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 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, and in 2020 was named one of the prestigious "Texas 10" favorite professors by alumni of the University of Texas at Austin.
Karon Bowers - Digital Curriculum Portfolio
A founding member of the UTNIF Extemp & Oratory programs, Karon was a UIL 3A State Champion in both Persuasive Extemp and Lincoln-Douglas Debate before going on to compete for Bradley University-- where she became the first junior and the first female to win both the Individual Sweepstakes championship at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and Pentathalon at the National Forensic Association National Tournament in the same year. A seven-time collegiate national champion, Karon remains the only person in college forensics to have won a national championship in all four public address events (Informative, Persuasive, After Dinner, and Rhetorical Criticism). Karon went on to co-coach the University of Texas at Austin’s first National Championship team while in graduate school and has been a volunteer coach in various capacities ever since. When full-time forensics gave way to the corporate world, Karon spent over 25 years on the forefront of learning technology in public speaking. She’s led research and development initiatives for the world’s largest learning company. Her strategic vision has resulted in some of ed tech’s leading products and services. Over 2.5 million learners have used programs that Karon researched, helped to develop, and brought to market. She has developed face-to-face and virtual presentation skills training programs for sales and marketing teams and was the curriculum director for the Extemp Division in 2019.
Extemp & Congress
Eric Long (2022)
Eric is incredibly excited to return to UTNIF, meaning he has now worked speech camps in 4 separate decades. A member of the National Forensics Association Hall of Fame, he became the NFA Pentathlon Champion by finaling all three genres at the same national tournament. Eric is also a multiple-time AFA national finalist and After Dinner Speaking National Champion. A graduate of Bradley University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois, Eric is a Professor of Communication Studies at Elgin Community College but also enjoys coaching for the University of Illinois at Chicago helping the young program to its first top-10 finish and first limited prep national championships. Eric believes speech, and UTNIF, changes lives. Communicate. Educate. Advocate.
Joseph Perretta (2022)
Joe is ecstatic to be back in Austin, where he led the UTNIF congress lab from 2012-2015. A four year student congress competitor at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida, his competitive accolades on the national circuit rank among the event's all time greats: champion of the 2009 Crestian, Glenbrooks, Blue Key, Emory, and Harvard congress tournaments, Joe was also the winner of the 2009 Student Congress TOC, back-to-back runner-up at the 2009 and 2010 Florida Forensics League State Championship, and the 2010 final round presiding officer of the Harvard National Congress. In college, Joe competed for two years in the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate, where he was the 2011 Rookie of the Year, before transferring to Wake Forest University and finishing his college career as a particularly average, but incredibly appreciative, policy debater. As the congress coach at The Harker School in San Jose, California, and the Congress curriculum lead at UTNIF, Joe's students were consistently competitive in national outrounds, TFA state finals and NFL nationals; including top 6 finishes at Harvard, the UKTOC, NFL and CFL nats, TFA and FFL states from 2014-2016. His teaching style has been heavily informed by several years at UTNIF and sixteen years in speech and debate, combining intensive research and utilization of UT's incredible resources, with a strong focus on performative methodology and judge communication. Joe currently resides in Washington, D.C., where he works as a payment reform analyst for the Medicare Advantage program, and spends his free time riding fancy bikes at high speeds.
Katayoun Khalilian (2022)
Katayoun is a graduating Senior at UT majoring in biology and the Plan II Honors program, and was the 2022 American Forensic Association national champion in Extemporaneous Speaking. In high school, she competed in congressional debate, public forum debate, and extemporaneous speaking. Kat placed second at the UK Tournament of Champions and at the Extemp Tournament of Champions in 2018, and made her way to the NSDA National’s stage in the summer of 2018 as a finalist in Domestic Extemp. In addition to extemp, she was recognized as the 2021 National Forensics Association national runner-up in ADS and in 2022 was a national finalist in communication analysis. Katayoun attended UTNIF as a camper in 2016 and 2017 and as she prepares to enroll in medical school starting next year, she can’t wait to return as a senior staff member in order to recreate the same impactful experiences that spurred her love for speech and debate!
René Otero (2022)
René Otero is a rising Senior at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies. While regularly participating in Original Oratory, Congressional Debate and Informative Speaking as a high school student, he specialized in Extemp. René received second place at the Harvard Invitational, 4th at the UK Tournament of Champions, 3rd, 2nd, and eventually champion at the UT Longhorn Classic, and appeared in multiple other national and state finals-- culminating in the 2019 NSDA National Championship in International Extemp. A multi-talented performer, René has performed in After Dinner Speaking, Poetry Interpretation, Rhetorical Criticism, and Extemp at the collegiate level. He attended UTNIF in 2016 and is excited to return to the teaching end of a camp which has such an impact on the lives of students!
Hiba Faruqi (2022)
Hiba is a rising sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin double majoring in government and public relations. While actively competing on the state and national level in original oratory, informative speaking, and impromptu speaking in high school, she has always gravitated towards extemp. She was the 2021-2022 state champion in informative speaking and has seen national out-rounds at NFA in the limited preparation events. Hiba currently works in The Texas House of Representatives where she drafts speeches for members and communicates with constituents on a daily basis. She's excited to join the UTNIF staff and share her love of extemp!
Alexis Alvarado (2022)
Alexis is a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Communication and Leadership and minoring in English. In collegiate forensics she has specialized in Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Rhetorical Criticism, and After Dinner Speaking. As a competitor she has performed in national-out rounds in Extemporaneous Speaking at AFA and Rhetorical Criticism at NFA and NSC. Alexis is thrilled to be working at UTNIF in her favorite event and hopes to inspire students to foster a new love and passion for the world of forensics.
Alex Lawson (2022)
Alex Lawson is a rising junior at Northwestern University majoring in political science and legal studies. In high school, Alex competed in oratory, policy debate, and extemp. Alex was a three-time qualifier for the Extemp Tournament of Champions and two-time qualifier for the UK Tournament of Champions, and made out rounds in NSDA USX twice. In college, they have continued to compete in extemp, finaling twice at the Illinois State Championship, as well as finaling in extemp at the 2021 National Speech Championship and the 2022 National Forensics Association national tournaments. Alex attended UTNIF as a high schooler in 2019 and can’t wait to be back!
Caetlin Mangan (2022)
Before enrolling at the University of Texas, Caetlin first attended UTNIF as a 15 year old student, where she was the Illinois State Champion in both Humorous Duet Acting and Dramatic Interp, among her many accolades. As a freshman at Texas, Caetlin was recognized with the 2005 AFA National Championship in Poetry. She continued on to five more national finals before finally placing second her senior year in Prose Interpretation and appearing in the AFA national final in After Dinner Speaking. She then served as a coach for the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, Wilson is a coach for The Quarry Lane School in Dublin, CA. In her first year, students advanced to Finals at Stanford, Berkeley, Longhorn Classic, James Logan, and a top 20 finish at 2021 NSDA in DI.
Carli Hall (2022)
Carli Hall is an upcoming junior on the Texas Speech team and is pursuing a degree in Film at the Moody College of Communication. During her first year on the team, Carli received 4th place in Dramatic Interpretation at AFA, 2nd place in Duo Interpretation at the National Speech Competition with her partner Kevin Ahern, and saw semi-finals at NFA. Her second year on the team, Carli saw semi-finals in Prose Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation. In high school, she competed as an independent on the Kentucky and national circuit, performing in the events Dramatic Interpretation, Poetry, Prose, and Program Oral Interpretation. Carli was the state champion in POI and state runner-up in both Dramatic Interpretation and Prose. She won the New York City Invitational hosted by Bronx High School of Science in OI, saw semi-finals at Glenbrooks and The Sunvitational, and placed in the top 30 competitors in POI at NSDA. Carli can't wait to be instrumental in creating a performance each interper is passionate and excited about this summer!
Kyle Ahern (2022)
Kyle Ahern is a rising junior on the Texas Speech team studying in the film department with a minor in creative writing. This past year as a sophomore he appeared in the AFA national final round in Program Oral Interpretation and garnered other national out rounds at AFA and NFA in Dramatic Interpretation and Poetry Interpretation. In his freshman year, Kyle saw a national semifinal round in Duo Interpretation with his partner Pablo Labiaga and a national semifinal round in Program Oral Interpretation. In high school, he competed at Dreyfoos School of the Arts most notably in Duo Interpretation and Program Oral Interpretation. Kyle was named the 2019 NSDA National Champion and final round winner with his brother Kevin. Other significant accomplishments include championships at the University of Texas at Austin’s Longhorn Classic, back-to-back Florida state championships, final rounds at the Sunvitational, the Barkley Forum at Emory University (4x), the Tournament of Champions, and many others. As a former UTNIF camper, Kyle can't wait to get to work on some awesome pieces!
Kevin Ahern (2022)
Kevin is a rising junior on the Texas Speech team, majoring in film. This past year as a sophomore, attending both AFA and NFA, he saw a national semi-final in dramatic interpretation, and in his freshmen year he saw a national final in prose interpretation, a semi-final in duo interpretation, and he was the NSC national runner-up in Duo with his partner, Carli Hall. An alumnus of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Florida, he gained experience in Duo Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Oral Interpretation, and Program Oral Interpretation. Kevin was named the 2019 NSDA National Champion and final round winner in Duo Interpretation with his brother Kyle. Other significant accomplishments include championships at the University of Texas at Austin’s Longhorn Classic, back-to-back Florida state championships, final rounds at the Harvard Invitational, the Barkley Forum at Emory University (5x), the Tournament of Champions, and many others. As an UTNIF alum himself, Kevin cannot wait to share his love of speech this summer!
Giana Martinez (2022)
Giana was a multi-talented performer across several events in interpretation including Dramatic Interpretation (for which she was the 2021 NSDA National Champion), POI, and HI, and strongly believes a lot of her growth as a speaker has stemmed from her two years of attending UTNIF. Giana has competed at multiple NSDA Nationals and seen out rounds at the TOC, TFA state, the UC Berkeley Invitational, The Longhorn Classic, Glenbrooks, and Harvard as well as other tournaments across the country. Having completed her high school career at Austin’s LC Anderson HS, Giana will be attending Gonzaga University in the fall, and plans on majoring in Philosophy with a minor in special education, in hopes of pursuing a career in educational policy and analysis. Speech has allowed Giana to explore nuances of her own narrative including her sexuality and experience as a Latina, and she can't wait to hear what these new group of UTNIF goers have to bring to table!
Kai Solis (2022)
Kai is a rising Senior at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Interpersonal Communication Studies. Kai has seen multiple out-rounds at AFA and NFA in all the interpretation events; as a Sophomore on the Texas Speech Team they were an AFA National Finalist in Poetry, they also finished 11th in the Pentathlon individual sweepstakes at NFA and were the National Champion in Dramatic interpretation at the NSC national tournament. As a Junior on the team, Kai was a NFA National finalist in POI, the NFA National Runner up in Duo with their partner Fernando and also placed 4th in Duo at AFA. Kai is originally from the Rio Grande Valley, where they competed at PSJA North High school and saw multiple outrounds at UIL State, NIETOC, TFA State (where they were the 2019 Dramatic interpretation state champion), NSDA outrounds in Dramatic interpretation and an NSDA national final in Poetry. Kai is extremely excited to return to UTNIF (especially their first in-person UTNIF) not only to share their passion, skill and love for speech but to also learn others who share the same!
Jackson Reich (2022)
Jackson Reich is a rising senior on the Texas Speech team, studying in the film department and Plan II Honors program. In collegiate forensics, Jackson has seen national outrounds in Prose, Impromptu Speaking, Persuasion and Duo Interpretation, finishing 3rd in Duo at AFA 2022, 5th in Persuasive Speaking at NFA 2022, and 4th in Original Oratory at the 148th annual Interstate Oratorical Association tournament in 2022. During high school, Jackson competed for Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, Texas, and saw outrounds on the state and national level in DI, Oratory, Duo, Prose, and POI. He has performed in final rounds at the Longhorn Classic, Glenbrooks, TFA State, UC Berkeley, UKTOC, semi-finals at NSDA, and was the 2019 NIETOC champion in DI. As an UTNIF alumni, Jackson is excited to join the UTNIF staff once again, and looks forward to helping students craft and share their stories!
Natalie Perez (2022)
Natalie is a rising junior on the Texas Speech team studying communications and leadership in Moody. In collegiate forensics she has specialized in POI and Duo and has seen national out-rounds at NFA. During her high school career, Natalie competed in Harlingen, TX, and performed in final rounds at the Longhorn Classic, TFA State tournament, NIETOC, and numerous other semi-final rounds state-wide. As an UTNIF alum of 3 years, Natalie is beyond excited to share her passion and creativity with students this summer, since this is the camp that started it all for her.
Fernando Cereceres (2022)
Fernando is a rising Junior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Communication Studies (Political Communications) and History with a minor in Law, Justice, and Society. In high school, he competed in Interp events and saw out-rounds at the Longhorn and TFA State in DI, POI, and DUO. In collegiate forensics, he has crossed over into both Interp and Public Address events. Fernando has finaled in every Interp event at the collegiate national contests, which include 5th place in Poetry Interpretation (AFA/NFA, 2022), 4th place Prose Interpretation (NSC, 2021) and Dramatic Interpretation (NFA, 2022), 3rd place Program Oral Interpretation (AFA/NFA, 2022), and 2nd place Duo Interpretation (NFA, 2022) with his partner Kai Solis. This year, at the 2022 NFA National Speech Tournament, Fernie was awarded the Individual Sweepstakes “Pentathlon" national championship.
Valeria Najera (2022)
Valeria Najera is an upcoming junior on the Texas Speech team majoring in Theatre Education with a minor in Rhetoric and Writing. While competing at the collegiate level, Valeria has seen finals at AFA and NFA in Communication Analysis, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, and Prose - for which she was the 2022 NFA Prose Champion and 2022 AFA runner up. She competed in the Central Texas circuit during her high school career while attending Theodore Roosevelt High School where she gained experience in Interp and Oratory by participating in TFA, NIETOC, and UIL competitions. As a former UTNIF student, Valeria is thrilled to join the coaching staff this summer to share her passion for storytelling with our students and support them on their speech journeys!
Oratory & Informative Speaking
Sahar Yusuf (2022)
Sahar is a rising senior on the Texas Speech team majoring in Marketing and Government. This past year, she competed in After Dinner Speaking at NFA and placed second at Fall TIFA 2021. Prior to joining Texas Speech, Sahar competed in Advanced Policy Debate and Original Oratory for three years and qualified for TOC in each event. She represented Louisiana and placed 4th at the 2018 National Judicial Competition. In the summer of 2019, Sahar attended the Conference on National Affairs where she presented her proposal on the insulin supply chain crisis to a national audience. Currently, Sahar is in UT Student Government and has advocated for student voting rights and federal-related issues through Hook the Vote agency and Federal Relations agency respectively. She has conducted research with the UT Department of Government on colonial constitutions. Sahar hopes to compete in public address this year and expand her repertoire in forensics at UTNIF.
Clay Parker (2022)
Clay Parker is heading into his first year as a graduate student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and will be serving as an assistant instructor for the Texas Speech team. Before college, he competed in Texas at Lovejoy High School where he would go on to earn the national championship in Duet Acting at NIETOC, compete in final rounds at TFA, Glenbrooks, and Berkeley, and participate in semifinal rounds at NSDA and Stanford. Clay attended The University of Texas at Austin as an undergrad and double majored in Government and Political Communication. As a competitor for the Texas Speech Team, he reached national out rounds in interp, public address, and limited preparation events. Notably, he received two state championships in Impromptu alongside a national semifinal appearance, and most recently he was the national runner-up at the AFA National Speech Tournament in After Dinner Speaking. As an UTNIF alumnus, Clay could not be more excited to come back to the camp that gave him his greatest tools for success and the place where he met the best people speech has to offer.
Ryan is a recent graduate of UT Austin where he majored in Humanities and minored in Entrepreneurship. His undergraduate work primarily centered around examining axioms of change and authenticity rhetoric through performance. Throughout his time at Texas Speech, Ryan competed in limited preparation, public address, and interpretation genres with the personal belief that there is always something that can be learned by competing in domains that are beyond one’s wheelhouse. Prior to competing for Texas Speech, Ryan competed in forensics throughout his secondary education at Midland Christian School and was a multi- finalist at TAPPS State and TCSIT. He returns to the UTNIF Public Address lab with a desire to foster enriching, discursive, and insightful lectures co-created to holistically blend productivity, creativity, and fun. Ryan’s hope is to inspire students to embrace forensics to be the best they can be right where they are—just beginning, well into their career, or somewhere in between.