UNO student Abigail Faris is currently a sophomore pursuing a double major in International Studies and Political Science.
Faris stays busy between working at the Maverick Food Pantry, where she focuses on advocacy, volunteering at Project Harmony, a non-profit organization that focuses on ending child abuse and neglect, and her two-year involvement in MavForensics.
When first hearing about MavForensics, some may think that it involves science or crime, but really it’s UNO’s nationally-ranked competitive speech team.
Faris’ first experience being on a speech team was at Hastings High School where her speech coach had mentioned that she could pursue college forensics.
“She connected me with Amanda and Traelon, the co-directors of forensics here at UNO, and they were absolutely amazing,” said Faris.
Faris says that her passion for public speaking and acting is what inspired her to join MavForensics.
“I’m able to have my fun little acting stuff, but then I’m able to talk about serious issues like climate change, abortion and access to equal rights,” said Faris.
A lot of what they do in MavForensics is practicing with the coaches, they have one-on-one coaching and peer coaching. The students construct their speeches throughout a long period of time, some of which are ten minutes long.
“We run it numerous times and fine-tune it to make it so we feel the most comfortable presenting and so the audience will be receptive to the pieces,” said Faris.
Faris explained that one of the key benefits of joining MavForensics is gaining the confidence to publicly speak in front of large audiences.
“Also being able to speak your truth and do what makes you feel best,” says Faris. “And connecting with people from all across the country allows you to make a lot of forensic friends.”
Public speaking is often ranked the number one fear that people encounter, Faris says that although her involvement in MavForensics has helped her confidence, she still gets nervous.
“The best thing I can say is try to take a deep breath and know that the people that are watching you are supporting you and they want you to succeed,” said Faris.
MavForensics has had a large impact on Faris’ college experience by helping her curve procrastination, it mostly helps her to stay on top of things.
“It also has impacted me in a beneficial way because it’s created a community,” said Faris. “Our little fourteen-person speech team is very connected to each other, we’re all really great friends.”
In this last year, Faris has been able to create pieces that she thinks will work into her political science and international studies career. One example is a piece about an art exhibit titled “A World Without Ice.”
“I was able to incorporate environment and sustainability as well as being able to rhetorically analyze it,” said Faris.
The MavForensics team writes many different types of speeches including informative, persuasive, acting and impromptu, which is where they are given three minutes to create a seven-minute speech on a given topic.
Most recently, the team took a trip to California where they competed at the 2023 American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament.
“This California trip was one of my favorite memories,” said Faris. “We were able to connect with each other, we had a whole day to bond and enjoy each other’s company.”
The Mavs took a total of 33 individual events to the National Tournament and placed 18th overall in the nation.
Their highlights include senior and captain Riley Smith being named to the 2023 prestigious All-American Team, sophomore Kieth Allen was named as a semifinalist in the Program of Oral Interpretation, and Abigail Faris was named as a 2023 finalist.
“If you’re interested in joining just know you’re coming to a very inclusive team,” said Faris. “We all help each other succeed.”
*** The views and opinions expressed in this social media post by our student organization are solely those of the individual members and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Nebraska at Omaha or other student organization.