Led by national champion Osade Imalele, Eastern Michigan University forensics team finishes fifth in the nation

Excellent showing caps a remarkable month of team and individual success, as program extends its long tradition of national dominance

EMU Forensics team photos

YPSILANTI – The Eastern Michigan University forensics team continued its tradition of excellence this past weekend, winning an individual national championship and finishing fifth overall in the nation in the National Forensics Association Tournament.

Osade Imalele, a senior marketing major who’s also studying apparel, textiles and merchandising, led the exceptional showing as she earned a national championship in Persuasive Speaking.

Osade Imalele
Osade Imalele

Other excellent performances this past weekend included:

• Samira Taylor and Cedrick Charles earned fourth place in Duo Interpretation.

• Samira Taylor took fifth place in Poetry Interpretation.

• Auryon Azar took sixth place in Impromptu Speaking.

• Samira Taylor earned sixth place in Dramatic Interpretation.

• Basra Keynan took fourth place in Novice Persuasion.

Outperforming some big-name schools

There are over 100 schools that are a part of the NFA. At this year's tournament, held virtually, EMU finished ahead of such nationally known universities as Northwestern, Yale, Alabama, and Cornell.

“The tournament success – first place individual performance and overall team fifth place in the nation -- is further testament to the overall academic excellence of Eastern Michigan University,” said University President James Smith. “The Forensics program at Eastern has a long and storied history. We are so proud of the students involved and the incredible support they receive from our outstanding Communications faculty.”

Patrick Seick, the team’s head coach said “We are ecstatic about how the team finished at this year's NFA - especially under the strenuous and challenging conditions.”

Last weekend’s success capped an amazing April for the team, which earlier this month placed eighth in the country in the American Forensics Association Tournament, with 16 quarterfinalists and three semifinalists in the virtual event.

National champion Imalele a special success story

Imalele is a first-generation Nigerian American in the United States, a senior in the Honors program from Northville, Mich., who is graduating in December.

In line with her studies, she has secured a summer internship with the Herman Miller furniture company. "I’ll be working at Herman Miller as the company’s first ever Creative Direction intern in Herman Miller history," Imalele said. "I will be reporting to the Chief Creative Officer, while working alongside him, the Vice President and two other Creative Directors on their design team. This will be an incredible opportunity to be taught by the best and establish my career in the Creative industry at just 20 years old."

She has studied abroad in Milan, Italy at the Nuova Accademia Di Belle Arti. After graduation, she hopes to work in Creative design at a fashion or art-focused company.

"My long term goal is to become a Creative Director at a reputable firm," Imalele said. "Most say you’ll need 10 years of experience before becoming a Creative Director, but I want to do it in under five."

Imalele says she's grateful for her forensics experience and feels blessed to be in the program at Eastern.

"Growing up I struggled with finding my voice," she says. "Every day I was told what to do, what to say, what to wear, how to act, who to be, etc. I suffered from extreme physical tremors  and social anxiety, which were especially heightened in public speaking. To be here, having faced my biggest fear and to have come out on top is my testimony.

"I have spent most of my life celebrating others and waiting for my turn to be exceptional at something, Forensics has finally made me realize how good it feels to be celebrated. When it comes to competitive success, you never know it could be you until it is, and that’s the magic of Forensics."

Seick summarized her experience thusly: "Osade’s story is an exceptional one. She’s an exemplar of what it means to succeed at EMU.”

An exceptional tradition in Forensics

The national competition showing extends the tradition of EMU Forensics, one of the most successful teams in the nation. EMU Forensics has placed in the top 10 nationally for more than 40 years, and has won more than 40 Michigan state team championships.

EMU Forensics began its tradition of success with its first national championship in 1973. Notable past EMU National Champions include Brenda Alten, lead of Human Resources Communications with the J.M. Smucker Company and this year’s EMU Undergraduate Symposium speaker; and the late Emeritus Professor Judy Sturgis Hill, a distinguished professor and EMU’s first National Champion, for whom the building that houses the University’s School of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts was recently renamed in her honor.

Seick, an alunmus who’s from Middletown, Ohio, is also part of the winning Eastern tradition. He won national championship honors in two events during his senior year, 2014, as EMU placed fifth in the nation that year as it hosted the NFA competition.  

Seick finished first that year out of 140 contestants in after-dinner speaking, and beat out 199 competitors from around the country in the impromptu speaking event.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a look at the members of this year’s team, with their hometowns, majors and other details:

Gavin Allen
Hometown: Chesterfield, Mich.
Major: Communication
Class Year: 2022
Performance Hour Co-host
Dean’s List

Auryon Azar
Hometown: Scottsdale, Ariz
Major: Political Science and Economics
Class: 2023
Dean’s List
Student Body VP

Anna Bowling
Hometown: Wadsworth, Ohio
Major: Communication and Women and Gender Studies
Class: 2023
Dean’s List
Student Body Senator

Cedrick Charles
Hometown: Lake Worth, Fla.
Major: Political Science and Economics
Class: 2024
Dean’s List
Student Body Senator

Anne Cruz
Hometown: Canton, Mich.
Major: International Business (focus in HR and Management)
Class: 2023
NSOA – Campus Life
Kapamilya – Pilipino Culture Club
Coach – Divine Child HS Forensics Team

Sarah Dubinsky
Hometown: Canton, Ohio
Major: Environmental Science (conc. in Biology) and Marketing
Class: 2023
Dean’s List
Supplemental Instructor, Marketing Intern for “Nutty Scientists”

Evan Feldman
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Major: Communication
Class: 2022
Halel (Jewish student organization) and Sport Management Club
Transfer Student

Geoffrey Gauthier
Hometown: St. Joseph, Mich.
Major: Secondary Education (Social Studies Historical Comprehensive)
Class: 2023

Jessie Gonzalez
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Major: Communication
Class: 2021
Dean’s List
Transfer Student

Kate Inman
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Major: Political Science/Paralegal
Class: 2024
Dean’s List

Jocelyn Jones
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Major: Communication
Year: 2022

Basra Keynan
Hometown: Ypsilanti, Mich.
Major: Neuroscience
Year: 2023
Dean’s List
Honor’s College
Admissions tour guide

Joey Neider
Hometown: Struthers, Ohio
Major: Business Management
Class Year: 2024
Dean’s List

Cassie Paige
Hometown: Portage, Mich.
Major: Elementary Education
Class Year: 2023
Dean’s List
NSOA – Campus Life

David Reyes
Hometown: South Gate, Calif.
Major: Political Science
Class: 2022

Samira Taylor
Hometown: Hamilton, Ohio
Major: Public Relations
Class Year: 2022
First Generation College Student

Patricia Terhaar
Hometown: Canton, MI
Major: Dietetics
Class: 2022
Dean’s List
Student Dietetics Association
Eat Real America Internship

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

April 21, 2021

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom