Summer at Harvard

Junior attends debate summer workshop


Photo submitted by Travis Norris

Junior Travis Norris (far right) poses for a picture with other participants at the Harvard’s Debate Council summer workshop. Norris thought this would be a good workshop to attend as he has interest in becoming a lawyer in his future. “I wanted to see if this was something I really wanted to get into,” Norris said, “before I dove everything into it.”

Travis Norris (11) spent his summer preparing for his future career by attending Harvard’s Debate Council summer workshop.

“They get doctors and experts in the field. They come in there and they coach us,” Norris said. 

The two-week summer workshop caters specifically to people interested in learning the skills required for formulating speeches and debating. There were four programs offered: Public Speaking, Public Forum, Congressional Debate and Policy Debate. Norris took the Public Speaking route. From June 25-July 8, he was a resident on Harvard’s campus, learning from and interacting with professionals. 

“I’ve never ever done debate before, ever in my life,” Norris said. 

Norris jumped into this new experience with the intention of preparing for a future legal position. With becoming a lawyer on the horizon, Norris took interest in Harvard because of their law program. 

“I grew up watching ‘Law and Order,’ and I always loved watching the defense attorneys because they are the smartest people in the room,” Norris said, “and I wanted to be just like them.”

The workshop provided lectures and labs, along with competitions between participants, which consisted of both national and international students who were generally freshmen, sophomores and juniors. 

At the beginning of the workshop, Norris felt he especially lacked when it came to his argumentative skills, but by the end he felt a significant improvement. Additionally, Norris made several new friends and had many influential conversations while at the workshop. He even got the chance to meet new people from around the world with similar interests as himself, along with meeting a prominent speech and debate figurehead Bill Shanahan.

“[Bill Shanahan] gave me the confidence that I’m doing something good,” Norris said.

Rhetoric and communication professor Lee M. Pierce also made an appearance to give a Ted Talk that Norris attended, and he spent time in small groups with a lawyer as well, which he said was useful for understanding his impending career.

“I wanted to see if this was something I really wanted to get into before I dove everything into it,” Norris said.

According to Norris, he has no regrets about spending part of his summer at the Harvard summer workshop and that his two weeks were filled with new experiences and new achievements. 

“The camp was a great outlook,” Norris said, “because I loved every second of it, from start to finish.”