National Acclaim, Sierra McClain

This cute picture collage was created by Doyle.

Picture collage credit: Dr. Doyle Srader


Easter weekend was an exciting weekend for many reasons; Easter egg hunts, spending time with family, celebrating the resurrection and for some people attending the Speech and Debate Nationals hosted at Lewis and Clark. Two weeks ago Sierra McClain had the opportunity to represent NCU at Nationals. This alone was exciting but to add to the excitement, she is the first student from NCU to make it to nationals in speech and debate. Sierra participated in impromptu speech and persuasive speech.

During her interview, Sierra  explained that she was not naturally inclined to do speech and debate, but felt that God wanted her to step out and give it a try. She did a bit in high school and then joined NCU’s Speaking Beacons this last August in which she has worked hard all year. Each week she met with Dr. Doyle Srader to practice her persuasive speech as well as working with other students in the club to hone her debating skills. When asked about how it felt being the first student to go to nationals at NCU she responded:

“It was shocking, first of all. Cause I didn’t expect to go. I don’t think anybody expected me to go. Doyle was like ‘we’re not going to go to nationals. I haven’t been in seventeen years.’ And then we went. It was surprising and exciting. I mean it was a huge opportunity. What was also shocking was that it was going to be in Oregon, for the first time since 1992, maybe 1991.”

Clearly she was enthusiastic about the event. This event is something that anyone would be proud of to go to, but Sierra definitely deserved it. The amount of time and effort she put into her speech and on top of everything else she does is truly admirable. While at the event Sierra had the chance to hear a ton of other speeches and she tells me that some of these speeches were heart breaking.

“Being there, to be perfectly frank, was a huge mix of emotions. A lot of the different messages that people were sharing through their speeches kind of broke my heart. Just as far as the different stories that they have and the things they’ve been though. It was, in some ways, discouraging because it was difficult seeing some of the issues that our world is wrestling with. But at the same time it was encouraging to be able to talk to people from all across the country and hear and see different perspectives that will help me to understand others better.”

Not only did she get to hear some powerful and moving speeches, but Sierra’s was able to deliver her own speech on adoption which evidently moved some audience members. . Sierra describes a couple who came and spoke with her after one of her events:

“…There was one room during the preliminary rounds. There were quite a few people in the audience but there was this couple in the room who were really connecting with what I was saying… They’re a married couple who have been teaching for decades and had just retired this last year. They had been praying about what the next step in their life and how they’re supposed to minister in the world. They came into the room and listened to my speech and they agreed that adoption was what they needed to do. ‘This is confirming for us what we need to do’ I think this is the biggest thing for me this year”

She explained how she chose her topic for her persuasive speech:

“What went into the persuasive was my heart behind the issue of adoption and orphan crisis that I’m really passionate about. And I was really excited to be able to share that with people this year.”

Sierra didn’t manage to break out of the preliminary rounds at nationals, but that hardly compared to the incredible impact her speech had on those listening. . She truly is an amazing student who represented both NCU and Christ in the best way at nationals. Next time you see her in the halls make sure to congratulate her, because Sierra McClain accomplished more than just getting to nationals. She made a difference in the lives of people, or as she described:

“I got the reward that I wanted, and hopefully God made a difference through me.” – Sierra McClain

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