Alumni News

Alison Reidmohr

Alison Reidmohr’s interest in public policy was fully developed during her three years as an RMC debater. Majoring in communication, Alison credits debate with improving her research skills, comfort with public speaking, and travel to a wide variety of locations for tournaments. Honing her research skills especially benefited her outside of competition, since being well informed helped with many of her classes. Her favorite memories are of the Pan Pacific Debate Tournament in Hawaii in 2008, where she and partner Katie Berst took first place. The team also spent time surfing and cliff jumping, enjoying all the island had to offer.

After graduating in 2009, Alison spent two years as an agriculture and forestry volunteer with the Peace Corps in the west-African nation of The Gambia. She now lives in Helena, Montana, where she has been a health educator for the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program since 2011. She is also an assistant debate coach – something she attributes to some of the contacts she made during her time as a competitor. She also appreciates the skills she gained while competing, since she travels and speaks for her organization on a regular basis. Alison’s strongest advice to new members of the team is to read as much as possible and to enjoy the ride and opportunities that come with debate.

Alison Corbyn

How communities interact and respond to events and lasting issues has always been an interest for Allison Corbyn. Graduating in 2010 with a bachelor of science in history and political science, her four years on the debate team helped develop not only her speaking abilities, but her skill in writing and articulating strong points. The accompanying knowledge of events, both current and historical, helped greatly in her other classes. Of the four years spent on the team, some of her favorite memories include the “delirium when trapped at USAFA (United States Air Force Academy)."

Allison now lives in Billings, where she is the community outreach coordinator for the Yellowstone AIDS Project and a community development specialist for the Big Sky Economic Development Authority. Out of the many skills she gained as a debater, she notes that critical thinking and public speaking abilities are invaluable, as well as the writing skills that she now uses for grant writing. Her advice to new members of the team is to “read a lot” and to establish a broad and up-to-date knowledge base.

Amanda O’Shea Tiernan

The foundations for Amanda O’Shea Tiernan’s continued formal education lie in her time as an RMC debater. Her four years on the team honed her public speaking and argumentation skills, preparing her for an eventual foray into law school. These skills also helped greatly in her undergraduate classes, particularly several political science courses and debating contemporary issues (which focuses on argumentation and uses current events as examples and jumping-off points for discussion). She remembers being fond of the travel and networking that came with attending tournaments. Amanda graduated in 2010 with degrees in history and political science and professional communication studies.

Following her time at Rocky Mountain College, Amanda applied and was accepted to the Gonzaga University School of Law. She recently graduated and is now a practicing lawyer at the United States Attorney’s Office. Gonzaga was just as busy and engaging as RMC, with Amanda crediting her debate experience with helping her secure a spot on the National Moot Court Team, as well as “making law school an easy decision."

Amanda’s advice to new debaters is to “work hard so you can be epic."

Annie Ayre

Being a member of the RMC forensics squad brought both professional and personal development to Annie Ayre. While completing a degree in geology, Annie learned to be more understanding and cooperative as she traveled with the team. Her three years helped her to accommodate the perspectives and demands of others along with boosting her self-confidence.

Now living in Billings and a geologist with the Stillwater Mining Company, Annie is preparing to move to Bloomington, Indiana, in order to attend graduate school in the Geological Sciences Department at Indiana University. She observes that, following her graduating in 2012, she was able to notice how fine-tuned her communication skills had become while on the team. This newfound glibness has proven helpful in interviews. Annie also values the contacts she made as a debater, not so much for their professional value as simply the engaging and scintillating conversations they can provide.

Annie’s advice to new debaters is to practice frequently, observe European debates as examples of successful debating, and read The Economist regularly.

Aria Walters

Aria Walters still treasures the knowledge gained during her four years of competing on the RMC forensics squad. Graduating in 2010 with a degree in professional communication, Aria found a boost in confidence and a more efficient ability to conduct research through her participation in debate. Research gathering helped her in some of her more strenuous classes, as did the organizing thought processes that became ingrained through constant use of argumentation. She fondly remembers the conversations the team had anytime they would travel in the van to and from tournaments.

Now the selling supervisor at Herberger’s in Billings’ Rimrock Mall, Aria uses the confidence, public speaking, and social relations skills she gained from debate every day in her professional life. Aria’s advice to new debaters is to work hard and just do it.

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson spent five years on the RMC forensics squad as both competitor and later as a coaching figure. During this time he was honing his skills in organizing and articulating his thoughts, critical thinking, argumentation, and writing. He also found it to be a great confidence booster, since it provided the opportunity to deliver speeches in front of well-learned experts who gave valuable feedback. These skills proved helpful in both competition and in the classroom, where he earned degrees in English education and literary studies. His favorite memory of debate was from the team’s initial shift to a more international style of debate, where he was one of the few chosen to attend a camp and tournament in Slovenia in the fall of 2010.

Graduating in 2012, Daniel now teaches in Billings as well as coaches debate at West High School – opportunities helped in part by the networking he was able to do as a competitor and coach. These positions allow for frequent use of the confidence, critical thinking, and other skills gained from debating. His best advice to new debaters is to stick with the activity, since “it is totally worth it."

Dustin Schneider

Although it may not have been his goal, becoming a leader is one of the things Dustin Schneider has taken away from his time as a Rocky Mountain College debater. His three years on the team greatly improved upon his speaking skills and controlling the nerves that accompany being in front of large groups. This improvement was also accompanied by his studies in professional communication and psychology.

Having graduated from RMC in 2010 and a recent graduate from University of Montana’s master communication program, Dustin coaches debate at Skyview High School in Billings. He also has served as an interim head coach for the RMC debate team, filling in for Professor Shelby Long-Hammond during her maternity leave during fall sabbatical. 

Dustin’s advice to new debaters is to be willing to say yes to new experiences as often as possible and to stick with the activity no matter how tough it may get.

Katie Berst

Like many debaters, law school seemed an easy choice for Katie Berst – and she has taken to it with a gusto. Four years with the RMC forensics squad helped hone not only her competitive skills, but also useful talents like balancing various demands and commitments (personal life and work life, debate and academic workloads, etc.), packing for trips, and being a competent traveler. Learning to read quickly and find the information she was looking for, as well as the public speaking required to convey it, were other skills that she found useful in the classroom and beyond. However, what she remembers most fondly are not the exercises, but the tournaments – especially a tournament in Hawaii, which she and partner Alison Reidmohr won, and the national tournament in Colorado.

Graduating in 2010 with degrees in professional communication and literary studies, Katie temporarily left Billings to attend the University of Idaho College of Law in Moscow. While there, she served on the Board of Students, Vice President Advocates, participated in the University of Idaho Legal Aid Clinic, and was a McNichols competitor. She now is a member of the Federal Defenders of Montana and credits several judges who were former attorneys with reinforcing her desire to become a lawyer.

Katie’s advice to new debaters is to stay up on current events and read as many different opinions about an issue or event as they can get their hands on.