Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Graduate Profile: Elijah Avery

Elijah Avery knows how to debate politics, and he’s particularly interested in foreign affairs. But this Political Science major comes with more than just statistics and rhetoric in his arguments, he brings some life experience. He said growing up in South Africa didn’t directly influence his interest in politics, but it did give him a different perspective. Elijah moved to the U.S. at the young age of ten, and it was during high school that he discovered his knack for political speech and debate.

“We were required to learn and research various political topics and I always thought, ‘these are absolutely stupid, these aren’t going to affect me,’ but then after reading it and looking at it, I found it very interesting,” he said.
After moving on to college, he joined the newly formed Vol State Speech and Debate Team and rapidly found success. He won a number of awards in regional and state tournaments. His feats culminated recently in a national competition at the Novice National Parliamentary Debate Tournament in Ohio. Elijah, and teammate Danielle Salvato, won first place in Novice Parliamentary Debate. He also won second place Debate, second place in Impromptu Sales, third place in Impromptu Speaking, and third place Pentathlon. He calls his experience with the Speech and Debate Team a highlight of his Vol State experience.

“I feel like Vol State has given me the opportunity to educate myself both academically and mentally, or psychologically, I suppose, and the Speech and Debate Team was a great plus.”

Elijah is keeping his options open in regards to his educational path as he hasn’t decided on a university yet. But he intends to double major in Political Science (with an emphasis in Public Administration), and Public Relations.

“And as far as public relations, I’ve always been told, like, ‘EJ’s a talker...’ So, I might as well get paid for it … The ultimate goal would be to be a chief of staff of an organization or a [chief commercial officer]. Lobbyist is the main goal. Lobbyist is something I’ve wanted to do for a hot minute,” he said.

Regarding moving on from Vol State, he said: “I like change, but I am reluctant to leave because I actually am leaving some good friends and professors behind … But I’m also excited to, like, go out into the world and, you know, continue my education.”

And yes, he plans to keep debating.

-By Rachel Keyes

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