SpeakFirst Team Members:

Kimora Bell

Class of 2017, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Kimora Bell is a senior at Ramsay High School and is the SGA President. Being the fourth child of six means that she is always motivated to do her best.  Kimora’s favorite part of debate is case writing because she enjoys putting ideas together to make the most persuasive argument possible. In the future, Kimora would like to attend the University of Georgia to study public relations and communications. Because Kimora is such a social person, she plans to use her debating skills in her career as a publicist.


Delanya Storey

Class of 2017, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, AL

Delanya Storey is a senior at Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School. Aside from debate, she is a part of the Beta Club, Future Problem Solvers, Model UN, the Birmingham AIDS Outreach Youth Advisory Council, and the Addiction Prevention Coalition Youth Advisory Council. In addition to being the Vice-President of the National Honor Society, Delanya is part of the History, English, Science, and Spanish Honor Societies at her school. Delanya wants to attend college at either Johns Hopkins University, American University, or Harvard University. Her life goal is to work at the UN. In her spare time, Delanya enjoys art, specifically renaissance, impressionist, and surrealist art pieces. For entertainment, she also enjoys Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


 

Brooklin Ballard

Class of 2018, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Brooklin Ballard is a junior at Ramsay High School and a third year debater on the SpeakFirst High School team. In middle school, Brooklin was the first chair flute player in the W.J. Christian School band as well as an apprentice photographer. She maintained the A/B honor roll year-round. Last year, Brooklin debated for the SpeakFirst Middle School Debate League and was awarded a $250 scholarship for placing second in the end-of-year tournament. In the upcoming four years, Brooklin plans to be in Ramsay’s Concert Band, maintain a GPA of 3.7 and become a great debater. She hopes to attend and debate for Yale University and aspires to be a United States Ambassador.


Jordyn Cannon

Class of 2018, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Jordyn Cannon is a junior at Ramsay High School and a third year member of the SpeakFirst High School team. Last year, Jordyn debated for Huffman Middle School in the SpeakFirst Middle School Debate League. In her spare time, Jordyn enjoys reading mystery novels and watching scary movies.


Christion Finch

Class of 2018, Pelham High School, Birmingham, AL

Christion Finch is a junior at Pelham High School. He enjoys listening to classical music and immersing himself in the writings of Shakespeare. Christion likes to stay on top of current events happening in the world. His favorite part of debate is crossfire because it requires him to think on his feet. He would like to attend an Ivy League school and study law and psychology. His life long goal is to be the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


Caitlyn Jones

Class of 2018, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Caitlyn Jones is a junior at Ramsay High School. She plans to study human anatomy and biology in college followed by attending Oxford University Medical School to become a Neurosurgeon. While competing in debate for Phillips Academy, she placed second out of all of Birmingham middle school debaters. Outside of debate, she spends her time reading and studying for school. She enjoys tennis, singing and learning how to play the piano, violin and guitar.


Christopher Pilgrom

Class of 2018, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Christopher Pilgrom is a junior attending Ramsay High School. Christopher enjoys watching current events on the news and likes to debate them in his spare time. He considers a number of figures to be his idol, such as Thurgood Marshall and Eric Holder. While unsure about what university he wishes to attend, he knows that he wants to go to law school after completing his undergraduate study. Christopher’s life goal is to become an attorney and eventually be named a Supreme Court Justice.


Dasia Primus

Class of 2018, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Dasia Primus is a junior at Ramsay High School. She plans on being a medical examiner in the field of forensic science. During middle school, she was active on the Phillip’s Academy Junior United Nations Assembly team and debated in the SpeakFirst Middle School Debate League. Dasia enjoys reading and volunteering in her free time. Dasia also enjoys swimming, playing volleyball and tennis, and watching crime shows on the Investigation Channel.


E’shandae Thomas

Class of 2018, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

E’shandae Thomas is a junior attending Ramsay High School. In middle school, she won first place in the TA’s Reflections competition for Art, won second place in the Alabama Scholastic Chess Tournament, and maintained AB honor roll. E’shandae was also named Apprentice Photographer for her school and participated in choir and math team. She enjoys debate and volunteering with her church. E’shandae hopes to attend Spelman University in Atlanta, Howard University in Washington, D.C, or University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.


Myranda_Bell

Myranda Bell

Class of 2019, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Myranda Bell, who prefers to be called “My”, is in her sophomore year of Ramsay High School. She really enjoys astronomy and philosophy and would like to go to Princeton University to study both. Her favorite quote is from a song called “Hiii Power” ,by Kendrick Lamar, which states, “While you guys are waiting, I be off the slave ships, Build your own Pyramids, write your own hieroglyphs.” Her biggest strength is knowledge which leads to her greatest accomplishment, which is finally knowing what she doesn’t know.


Evan_Braxton

Evan Braxton

Class of 2019, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Evan Braxton is a sophomore at Ramsay High School. Evan enjoys playing basketball, working hard , and hanging out with friends. He likes to play basketball and learn about new, interesting things. His biggest strength is that he can think on his feet quickly, especially in situations where there is a lot of pressure. His favorite quote is from the movie “ATL” which is, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This quote really taught him something to use throughout life. It taught him to treat people with respect no matter who they are. Evan is interested in attending Stanford University.


Aaron Burns_formatted

Aaron Burns

Class of 2019, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Aaron Burns is a sophomore at Ramsay High School. The only extracurricular he participates in is debate. Aaron’s nickname is “Ace.” The most memorable place he’s been to is Okinawa, Japan, where he lived when his dad, who’s in the Air Force, was stationed in Japan. Aaron likes to play video games and listen to different genre’s for fun. He is not currently interested in any particular college right now but would like to enter the field of law or marketing.


Kayla Caldwell_formatted

Kayla Caldwell

Class of 2019, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Kayla Caldwell is a sophomore at Ramsay High School. Kayla enjoys shopping, getting her hair and nails done, hanging out with friends, and trying new foods. Her favorite quote is from the First Lady Michelle Obama, “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” Kayla’s proudest accomplishment is when she was accepted into the National Junior Honor Society. In addition, she participates in events at her church such as the choir, dance ministry, and assisting in children’s church. Kayla hopes to pursue a career of a neurosurgeon.


Savannah_Dorsey

Savannah Dorsey

Class of 2019, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, Al

Savannah Dorsey is a sophomore at Ramsay High School. She likes to play volleyball, go shopping, go out with friends, and practice her Spanish speaking.  My favorite quote is from the book To Kill A Mockingbird which was “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” Her biggest strength is math. She can easily solve equations, graph equations, and more with no struggle. Her proudest accomplishment is when she won valedictorian at the Wilkerson Middle School graduation. She would like to attend Auburn University and major in mathematics.


Cinthia_Gibson

China Gibson

Class of 2019, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, Al

China Gibson is a sophomore at Jefferson County International Baccalaureate school. China is involved in the Praise Team at church, Girl Scouts, Ronald McDonald House Club, photography, Japanese and German classes. One of China’s biggest accomplishments is being able to attend JCIB. She enjoys being a big and little sister. For fun, China loves babysitting, going to the movies, bowling, skating, and bonding with her family. Family bonding, the love of traveling, and passion is what led to one of China’s most memorable experiences. One memorable place China has been to is Washington, D.C. to see President Barack Obama’s inauguration. In hopes of becoming a future doctor, China plans to attend Tuskegee or Spelman University.


Darpha Carson

Darpha Carson

Class of 2020, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, Al

Darpha is a freshman at Ramsay High School and enjoys a ton of musically related things. He enjoys creating his own personal remixes of songs that he has heard but has yet to find a way to actually make them public. Darpha also likes to write his own short stories and has been trying to write his own novel. His favourite artists are Pegboard Nerds, Slushii, Watsky, Marshmello, and generally every artist associated with Monstercat. Though he is highly influenced by music he is also very fascinated the science, tech, and mathematics. Darpha has been interested in both music and science since he was young. He has a dream to create his own company that does not focus solely on one field of study, rather combines multiple fields to create newer concepts of invention. Darpha’s biggest strength is that he can be very motivational when his friends need his help most. The one place he has always wanted to go to is Tokyo, Japan and the U.K., mainly because he is curious about how those two cultures are different from each other. Darpha’s favourite song lyrics are:

Can’t bear a bear market with a bare body Rich heir—hot air choking errbody They swore you’d soar, check your sore body See the sweat pour from each pore of your poor body Someone wise once wrote ‘our world’s divided into two types of folk Now there’s the type of people who divide the world into different types of people And then there’s the type who don’t.'”


Ferrell Oden

Ferrell Oden

Class of 2020, Shades Valley High School, Birmingham, Al

Ferrell Oden is a freshman at Shades Valley High School. He is a saxophone player, enjoys bowling and debate. Ferrell’s favorite part of debate is the crossfire because it gives him the time to question the opponent’s flaws in their case. He’s planning on getting a PhD. in computer software engineering. He plans to attend to college away from the  south. His biggest strength is thinking on his feet. He hopes to travel to the United Kingdom.


Gabrielle Frazier

Gabrielle Frazier

Class of 2020, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, Al

Gabrielle Frazier is a freshman at  Jefferson County IB school. Gabrielle likes to be called “Gabby” or anything along those lines. Gabrielle loves to draw cartoon characters and write fan-fictions in her free time. Gabrielle also likes to play video games for fun. One thing that Gabrielle likes about debate is the rebuttal because it gives you a chance to attack your opponent without any interruptions.Gabrielle’s favorite quote from Iris, a song by the Goo Goo Dolls is, “Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive,”.This quote reminds Gabrielle that whenever she feels like she’s invisible, she’s not and that she has a voice. Gabrielle wants to attend University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning to major in Architecture, or NYU Studio Arts BFA Program.


Key’Airra Goldsmith

Class of 2020, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, Al

Key’Airra Goldsmith is a freshman at Ramsay High School. She wants to attend the University of California-LA and study psychology and journalism. Her favorite quote is “You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” For fun she writes books and makes YouTube videos. One of her proudest accomplishments was being the valedictorian of her 8th grade class. She also loves to cook, sing, and dance. Key’Airra was a part of Lovely and S.W.E.E.T., a mentoring group that doubles as a step group. Her favorite artists are Adele, Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith. Her idol is Temperance Brennan from her favorite TV show Bones.


Malika Freeman

Malika Freeman

Class of 2020, Woodlawn Early College High School, Birmingham, Al

Malika Freeman, aka “Mal” is a freshman at the Woodlawn Early College High School. She really enjoys playing softball and reading a lot of books ( her most prefered is fantasy books).  Her favorite quote is from the movie Brave ” Our fate lives within us, you have to be brave enough to see it”.  Malika’s biggest strength is figuring out things in education faster than others and building things that are extravagant that others never saw coming.  The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is one of the most memorable places that she went to through the Woodlawn Early College High School.  She plans on attending the University of Alabama Aerospace Engineering Program so that way she become the best aerospace engineer of the world.  


Featured SpeakFirst Alumni:

Alondria McNair

Class of 2016, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Alondria McNair is a diligent, outstanding young lady with the world at her feet. She is currently attending the University of Alabama to pursue medicine and business. Alondria plans on using her collegiate degrees to become a prolific cardiologist, who owns her own practice. Aside from her career aspirations, she plans to pursue humanitarian work through the United Nations. In her spare time, Alondria volunteers in her local Birmingham community. Alondria is a beautiful, generous and kind human being who has begun and will further make a giant impact on the world.


Omario King

Class of 2016, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Omario King is an alum of Ramsay High School and was a Class Representative in Ramsay’s Student Government Association for two years. Omario is currently attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and he plans to double major in Mass Communications and Business. Upon completion of his studies at UA, he would like to return to Birmingham and attend Cumberland School of Law since he also possesses a passion for law. The source of Omario’s inspiration is his parents. They push him everyday to strive for the best. Outside of debate, Omario enjoys singing and cooking with his grandmother.  His life goal is to become a Public Relations Specialist or a Prosecution Attorney.


Jemarcus Pullins

Class of 2016, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Jemarcus Pullins is an alumnus of Ramsay High School. Jemarcus is a music lover and spends his off time downloading and listening to music. He is an avid basketball fan. His favorite team is the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he is most specifically a Lebron James fan. Jemarcus is known for his sense of humor and brings excitement and laughter to the SpeakFirst team. He served as one of the SpeakFirst captains for his senior year. Jemarcus is currently pursing his undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Jemarcus wants to major in marketing and become a marketing manager of an NBA team.


Alexis-Nicole_Sims-newAlexis-Nicole Sims

Class of 2015, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Alexis Nicole Sims, a graduate of Ramsay High School, is currently the director of the Future Ladies of Trinity, a nonprofit mentoring and community outreach organization, which emphasizes the importance of leadership and community service for young women in the AME Zion Church. Alexis Nicole was also the president of her high school’s book club, a member of Future Business Leaders of America, the Vice President of the Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Sigma Zeta Chapter, and has interned with attorney Nakita R Bulacton. As an aspiring philanthropist and prosecutor for international criminal court, she studies political science and international studies, and hopes to pursue a minor in English.

“One of my most memorable Speak First moments was the last tournament the seniors were able to participate in. We had two teams to break to semi-finals (one of which was the seniors). Sadly the odds were against us and both breaking teams were paired against each other! The senior team went on to semi-finals but before the round started every member of the Speak First team (along with a few other friends and coaches we bonded with over the years) gathered around a little bitty table and exchanged evidence, notes, and words of encouragement.”


Maia_Abdulahad-newMaia Norris

Class of 2015, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Maia Norris graduated from Ramsay International Baccalaureate High School in May 2015. She now attends the University of Alabama with a major in public relations and minor in international business. Maia is extremely excited about going to college but she’s not excited about being separated from her twin brother, Omar. Maia enjoys shopping and watching movies in her spare time.


Brittany_Grady-newBrittany Grady

Class of 2015, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, AL

Brittany Grady graduated from Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School in May 2015 and was the captain of the SpeakFirst High School team. She now attends the University of Alabama, where she studies international relations. Her favorite part of debate is crossfire, because it is the least scripted portion of debate. In Brittany’s spare time, she enjoys watching Netflix and going to the movie theatre. She one day plans to become active in politics and hopes to be able to represent the United States in diplomatic negotiations.


Chelsea_Caldwell-newChelsea Caldwell

Class of 2015, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, AL

Chelsea Caldwell graduated from Ramsay High School in May 2015, where she was part of the Ramsay High School choir and enjoyed singing, drawing, and spending time with her church community.  Chelsea now studies business and pre-law at the University of Alabama.  Her life goal is to open a law practice, and operate a fashion boutique on the side.


Arrix_Ryce-newArrix Ryce

2013-14 SpeakFirst Team Co-Captain
Class of 2014, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, Alabama

Arrix Ryce is a 2014 graduate of the Jefferson County IB School and is currently a junior at the University of Miami. Since entering college Arrix has served as an Undergraduate Research Fellow in both the Department of Biology, where he studies community resource theory, metabolism, and evolutionary genetics using Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast), and the Department of Religious Studies, where he studies the relationship of religion, cognitive science, and gene-culture coevolution and is helping develop the evolution unit of a new interdisciplinary undergraduate course called Why Do We Believe? He has also served as the Chairman for a university-wide initiative where he collaborated with university faculty, administrators, and professionals to design intervention strategies that minimize financial obstacles to educational enrichment. Arrix’s extracurricular activities include the Undergraduate Honor Council, IMPACT Leadership Retreat, Black Awareness Month, and the InspireU Mentoring Program.

After his sophomore year, Arrix completed a research internship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the following summer completed a research internship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In the fall of 2016, he studied abroad in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Following graduation from college, Arrix plans to enroll in medical school.


Breanna_Wright-newBreanna Wright

Class of 2014, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, Alabama

Breanna Wright is a 2014 graduate of the Jefferson County IB School and is currently a junior at the University of Alabama. Breanna aspires to be a pediatrician and is preparing for the rigorous medical school application process. She has shadowed pediatricians over summers, as well as worked in the office of a family care physician. Her current GPA is 3.15, and she has also taken on summer coursework with the goal of graduating early. She has also been looking at possible research opportunities to complete before she graduates. Breanna was involved as a Project Health Intern, a part of the Student Health Center’s Department of Health Promotion and Wellness. It covers a wide array of health topics and Breanna’s role was to help inform students on campus about different issues concerning health and wellness.


Kimya_Loder-newKimya Loder

Class of 2014, Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, Birmingham, AL

Kimya Loder is a 2014 graduate of the Jefferson County IB School. Kimya is currently a junior at Spelman College in Atlanta. She is one of twenty Bonner Scholars at Spelman. The Bonner Scholarship is a service scholarship sponsored by the Bonner Foundation that encourages servant leadership and civic engagement.

Kimya is now head delegate of the Spelman College Model United Nations Team which travelled to the Harvard World Model United Nations conference last year held in Rome, Italy.  She was designated as one of five UNCF Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows from Spelman College, which is a program designed to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning by encouraging undergraduate students to pursue PhDs.  This summer, Kimya will be participating in the Mellon Summer Institute held at Emory University where she will develop a prospectus which will be the basis of her research for the next two years at her home institution. Finally, during the fall 2016 semester, Kimya studied abroad in Tunisia through the School for International Training, Emerging Identities in North Africa program where she examined the dynamics between modernity and tradition, Islam and constitutional democracy, technology and youth culture, and social and political transition in Tunisia.


Myah_Morton-newMyah Morton

2013-14 SpeakFirst Team Co-Captain
Class of 2014, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, Alabama

Myah Morton graduated from Ramsay High School in 2014. Due to her maturity and remarkable growth, she served as a Team Co-Captain during her senior year. Myah is currently a junior in the Honors College at UAB. Since the summer before her first semester at UAB, Myah has participated in rigorous summer programming, maintaining a constant presence on her institution’s campus. She has also acted as a resident advisor the summer after her freshman year and continues to do so, serving as a leader for other resident advisors.  Myah is on the University Programs Board, which is a student program council that works with the Office of Student Involvement to organize events on campus like film series, socials, and field days. She also serves on the Leadership and Service Council. This council is comprised of student leaders who are responsible for planning, organizing, and coordinating service and volunteer opportunities for the UAB community.


Morgan_Smith-newMorgan Smith

Class of 2013, Shades Valley High School, Birmingham, Alabama

A 2013 graduate from Shades Valley High school, Morgan Smith was a four year member of the SpeakFirst team, serving as Co-Captain for two years. Morgan earned a total of $134,000 in scholarship. She is attending University of Alabama at Birmingham. Morgan’s passion for research, a skill she considers one of the most valuable aspects of debate, will help her perform well in all her interests – a list that includes veterinary medicine, foreign policy, and singing and performing. One of Morgan’s favorite memories from SpeakFirst is traveling to New Orleans for a tournament and eating beignets from the famous Café du Monde.


Damon_King-newDamon King

Class of 2013, Holy Family Cristo Rey High School, Birmingham, Alabama

Damon King graduated class of 2013 Holy Family Cristo Rey High School after spending three years on the SpeakFirst team. Senior year he earned a total of $75,000. At the University of Alabama, Damon is pursuing his love for history, which, like debate, enables him to see social and political topics from differing perspectives. If he could meet any historical figure, Damon would enjoy having a conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr. and discussing with him perseverance through adversity, a quality Damon finds particularly prominent in in a man like Martin Luther King, Jr. When Damon is not studying or contemplating the challenges of adversity, he uses his free time expanding his interest in fashion and hanging out with friends.

Damon’s 2012-13 Tournament Highlights:
Damon King and his partner Breanna Wright finished as Semifinalists at the Raymond B. Furlong Invitational at St. James School and Finalists at the Over the Mountain Classic.
Damon King won the Third speaker award at the Over the Mountain Classic.


Maya_Hoyt-newMaya Hoyt

Class of 2013, Ramsay High School, Birmingham, Alabama

Maya Hoyt graduated from Ramsay High School in 2013. Maya participated in SpeakFirst for all four years, and in her senior year, she was offered $10,400 in scholarship. She attends Spelman College where she continues to pursue her interests in history and singing in choir. After Spelman, she hopes to continue to law school.

 2012-13 Tournament Highlight

Myah Hoyt and her partner Morgan Smith finished as Quarterfinalists at the Betty Gunn Invitational at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham.


Mingo_Allen-newMingo Allen

Class of 2013, Holy Family Cristo Rey High School, Birmingham, Alabama

After spending three years on the SpeakFirst team, Mingo Allen graduated Holy Family Cristo Rey High School class of 2013 and was awarded a total of $510,900 in scholarship. Now, Mingo Allen attends Alabama State University where he continues to pursue his passion for English. He hopes to one day use his talents to be an author or an entrepreneur. If he could meet any current political figure, Mingo would like to meet President Barack Obama, whom he considers a source of personal inspiration. Mingo noted, “President Obama teaches me to allow no barrier to keep me from achieving my goal.”

2012-2013 Tournament Highlights:

Mingo Allen and his partner Morgan Smith finished as Quarterfinalists at the Raymond B. Furlong Invitational at St. James School and Octafinalists at the Isidore Newman Tournament.
Mingo Allen was a Finalist at the Over the Mountain Classic, where he was awarded Third in Extemporaneous speaking. He was also a Finalists at the Alabama State Tournament, placing Third in Extemporaneous speaking.