Excellence of Eastern Michigan University forensics students on display – team places third in the nation

A strong showing in the National Forensics Association competition against country's best collegiate teams demonstrates EMU’s tradition of excellence

EMU's Forensics Team

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University’s Forensics Team added another prestigious honor to its historical list of successes: placing third overall in the nation and receiving an individual national championship at the National Forensics Association Tournament. The tournament consisted of more than 60 colleges and universities from across the country.

Auryon Azar
Auryon Azar

Eastern Michigan University junior Auryon Azar, student body president-elect from Scottsdale, Ariz., who is majoring in political science and economics, was named national champion in after-dinner speaking. 

The national tournament showing extends the tradition of EMU Forensics as one of the most successful teams in the nation. The team has placed in the top 10 nationally for more than 40 years and won over 40 Michigan state team championships. Earlier this month, it placed fourth nationally at the American Forensics Association competition.

“The EMU Forensics Team has a long history of providing a platform for our students to showcase their exceptional talents on a national stage” said James Smith, president of Eastern Michigan University. “I’m extremely proud of our students and the outstanding faculty and staff who lead and support these efforts.”

Students and coaches were excited to return to the tournament in person after competing virtually for the past two years due to the pandemic, said Azar, “Nationals is an unforgettable experience for all those who attend it.

“Sometimes, things that we don't see coming threaten to derail our whole tournament, but having incredibly kind and supportive teammates sets the stage for individual success,” he said. “I couldn't achieve anything I have without my teammates, and I'm beyond proud to be a member of EMU Forensics' third-place team.”

In addition to Azar, the following students achieved national accolades in their respective categories:

  • Geoff Gauthier, a junior majoring in secondary education, social studies historical comprehensive, from St Joseph, Mich., took second place in impromptu speaking
  • Sarah Dubinsky, a junior majoring in environmental science with a concentration in biology and minors in marketing and business from Canton, Ohio, and Auryon Azar, a junior majoring in political science and economics from Scottsdale, Ariz., took fourth place in duo interpretation
  • Sarah Dubinsky took sixth place in dramatic interpretation
  • Estelle Hackos, a freshman majoring in marketing from Broomfield, Colo., named 2022 novice national champion in persuasion
  • Estelle Hackos took second place in novice impromptu

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 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 renamed in her honor.

"This is the best the team has done in the past 15 years, as a program, we are grateful for the consistent investment the School of Communication Media and Theatre Arts continues to make in our students," said Timothy Ward, director of Forensics at EMU. 

Estelle Hackos, a freshman at EMU and forensics newcomer, said the team changed her life. “These results speak to the drive, friendship, determination, and community we've built despite our adversity,” said Hackos. “This idea of working for each other no matter the challenge is special about the EMU Forensics Team. Our team, coaches, hard work, van rides, laughter, and unforgettable moments made this year's tournament one to remember. I am so proud of the amazing things we were able to accomplish.” 

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 15,000 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 27, 2022

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher