Mercer Cluster

Mercer seniors recognized for accomplishments at national debate competition

Kyle+Bligen%2C+Jaz+Buckley%2C+Keanu+Lowo+and+Daniel+Alvarez+pose+for+the+camera+after+their+big+debate+win+at+the+12th+Annual+Mile+High+Swing.+
Kyle Bligen, Jaz Buckley, Keanu Lowo and Daniel Alvarez pose for the camera after their big debate win at the 12th Annual Mile High Swing.

Kyle Bligen, Jaz Buckley, Keanu Lowo and Daniel Alvarez pose for the camera after their big debate win at the 12th Annual Mile High Swing.

Photo provided by Jaz Buckley

Photo provided by Jaz Buckley

Kyle Bligen, Jaz Buckley, Keanu Lowo and Daniel Alvarez pose for the camera after their big debate win at the 12th Annual Mile High Swing.

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Mercer Seniors Kyle Bligen and Jaz Buckley were recognized for their debate skills at the Mile High Swing competition, an annual tournament for college debate teams nationwide.

The competition was held Jan. 4-7 and was co-hosted by Texas Tech University and the University of Utah.

The Mile High Swing is divided into two tournaments. In the first, Buckley was named top speaker and Bligen third-place speaker, and they advanced to the octofinals as a team.

Buckley, a Political Science and Women’s & Gender Studies double major, became involved with Debate as a senior in high school and continued for all four years at Mercer.

“I never expected top speaker at all,” Buckley said.

During the second tournament, Bligen was named top speaker, and the team advanced to the semifinals.

A Politics, Philosophy and Economics major who has been debating at the national level since high school, Bligen was ranked as top speaker overall in the finals.

“I was and still am humbled due to the distinction,” he wrote in an email.

Buckley said that debate competitions are not organized by division, so schools of all sizes and prestige compete against one another.

“You compete against everybody,” Buckley said. “You can hit novices, novices can hit varsity, varsity and varsity.”

“What these victories prove is that a student from Mercer can compete – and win – against a student from any other college or university in the nation,” said Director of Debate Vasile Stanescu in a Mercer press release.

Buckley and Bligen competed against over 120 undergraduates from 27 institutions across the United States.

“[E]very win solidifies Mercer University as a premier academic institution in the United States,” Bligen wrote. “Whether we beat Harvard, Berkeley, Georgia Tech, or Morehouse, each win highlights the value of a Mercer education.”

Both debaters said that their experience on the team will help them achieve their goals for the future.

“Debate’s definitely taught me a lot about myself,” Buckley said. “I think winning top speaking awards is really validating for me because for most of my life, I didn’t think I had anything to say that mattered.”

After graduation, Buckley plans to attend the University of California- Berkeley School of Law and hopes to become a civil rights attorney.

Bligen plans to expand his brand development firm, Bligen Creative, and his nonprofit organization, the Bligen Family Foundation. He wrote that he will also “assist current U.S. Congressmen in their attempts to craft youth policy, pertaining to filial success.”

“The Mercer Debate Team constitutes a substantial portion of my undergraduate success,” Bligen wrote.

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Mercer seniors recognized for accomplishments at national debate competition