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Finding His Voice
The UIndy Forensics Speech and Debate Team is a nationally ranked interdisciplinary community that has competed in speaking events across the United States for more than 30 years, enhancing students’ communication, research, and public speaking skills.

Craig Anesu Chigadza ’21 came to the University of Indianapolis with dreams to walk onto the track team and eventually compete in the Olympics. Instead, he discovered his talent for a different kind of competition. 

Chigadza, a psychology and international relations double major, recently became the first UIndy varsity student in nearly two decades to win a national speech and debate championship. 

In addition to being involved with the Speech and Debate Team, he’s a student government class representative, a resident assistant, a presidential ambassador and part of the Paul Washington-Lacey Leadership Program at UIndy.

Networking has been a powerful tool for Chigadza throughout his college career. In the weeks leading up to the 2019 National Speech Championship, for example, staff from the Professional Edge Center helped him practice for the interview competition he would end up winning. 

It’s not what he thought the path to success would look like when he moved from his hometown of Rusape, Zimbabwe, to the United States in 2017. 

“In Zimbabwe, there’s a big misconception that being a college athlete in the United States is what gets you scholarships and opportunities,” he explained. “Athletics is considered the way to be successful in the States.”

Shortly after arriving on campus, he met Dr. Stephanie Wideman, director of the UIndy Forensics Speech and Debate Team, at a Welcome Week event. Eight days after joining the team he advanced to the final round of his first competition, and he hasn’t looked back since. 

“My national title is proof that you don’t have to come from a big school to achieve great things. UIndy is one of those places that enables students to chase their dreams.”
– Craig Chigadza ’21

This summer, he participated in a 10-week fellowship program with Learning Leaders, an organization in Shanghai, China committed to improving the public speaking skills of middle and high school students. Part of his national championship win, the opportunity included fully funded travel and accommodations, a stipend, Mandarin lessons, and the chance to network with like-minded people from around the world.

“I would be lying if I said I ever thought speech would take me this far in life. It started as a ‘thing to do’ and now I’m realizing the opportunities and adventures it can open up,” said Chigadza.