Published on April 13, 2015  

The United State Committee on International Discussion and Debate (CIDD) has selected Samford University student Natalie Bennie to serve on the U.S. National Debate Team’s tour of Japan this summer. The junior communication studies major and varsity debate team member earned the honor by completing a rigorous selection process that included evaluation of her debate knowledge, cultural sensitivity and critical thinking ability.

“I feel extremely humbled to have been chosen for the Japan Tour,” Bennie said. “By participating on the U.S. National Team, I am joining the ranks of some of the most driven and passionate people in the debate community.”

During the tour, Bennie will be paired with Cody Walizer, captain of the University of Denver Debate Team. The two will compete in more than 20 public debates held throughout Japan during June. The debates, organized by the Japan Debate Association, will focus on a variety of issues regarding U.S.-Japanese international relations and will match the U.S. students against local teams ranging from high school students to adult members of English Speaking Clubs.

Bennie is the second Samford student appointed to the National Debate Team. James Radford took part in the team’s 2003 tour of Japan. Samford communications studies professor Mike Janas served as coach for the 2007 U.S. team’s tour of Japan.

The CIDD honor is only the latest for Bennie. In March she was named a National Debate Scholar for her excellence in debate and academics, and was named one of the thirty debate All-Americans for her excellence in debate, service and scholarship.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.