Three Niles West Debaters Named J. W. Patterson Fellows


By Grace Geraghty

Three Niles West debaters, Nathan Glancy, Nasim Salehitezangi, and Elizabeth Bennet, have been named to the University of Michigan’s summer fellowship program for the summer of 2017.

The prestigious J. W. Patterson Foundation fellowship, which is awarded to only twelve high school juniors each year, is a seven week debate program that takes place each summer on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“The fellowship award, or the fellowship, is an honor society where the University of Michigan recognizes the best debaters who are upcoming high school seniors for their achievements and their future potential as a debater,” Glancy explained.

“The director of debate at the University of Michigan, Aaron Kall, every single year, along with a committee, decides twelve juniors in the nation for this fellowship award,” Salehitezangi added. “It’s chosen through a selective application process between coaches’ recommendations, other recipients’ recommendations, and your success throughout the year.”

Glancy and Bennet, who are partners, both have high hopes for their senior year, which will follow a summer spent immersed in debate.

“I certainly want to make sure that I’m going to be competing at the Tournament of Champions,” Glancy said, referring to the selective annual tournament that serves as the Super Bowl of high school debate. “I’m going to make sure, for a fact, that everyone is afraid to debate Niles West. We’re going to be a very strong team; we’re going to be a very good team; we’re going to do a lot of winning.”

“It’s really nice to have my partner awarded a fellowship as well because it shows that as a team we’ve both been doing really well and gaining a reputation,” Bennet said.

Salehitezangi, who is partnered with senior Emily Silber, is already anticipating the prestige that fellow debaters will soon associate with herself and her teammates as a result of the fellowship.

“The fellowship award is hopefully going to lead to a lot of reputation, in a way, for next year,” she said. “Since it’s prestigious to get the award and makes you stand out, it allows you be seen as one of the best debaters in the country and allows you to have that reputation you need next year to be able to establish yourself as a credible team and a credible debater.”

Like her teammates, she is also resolved to gain recognition for herself and Niles West.

“Coming out of this program, I’m hoping to be one of the most competitive and one of the best teams in the country next year.”

Bennet and Glancy explained how honored they felt to have their hard work recognized.

“Winning this, I feel very accomplished because I feel like my debate skills have been recognized for all the hard work I’ve been doing,” Bennet said. “So it makes me feel very honored.”

“It allows me to feel like I’m being recognized for all the hard work that we’re putting in as a team, and it really helps establish a future for Niles West debate,” Glancy said.

For Salehitezangi, it was a major goal for this season.

“To me, being chosen as one of the recipients of this award is a pretty big deal because one of my major goals for junior year was to be able to get this award,” she explained. “It makes me stand out.”

For head coach Eric Oddo, the selection of three Niles West students for the fellowship indicates that their team has once again reached the elite level of years passed.

“I’m really excited about it because this year we’ve done really well, but it’s been kind of a rebuilding year. We’ve had such great years with debaters like Theo [Noparstak] and Faith [Geraghty] that the expectations are pretty high amongst all the stakeholders,” he said. “So, this year, I think we’ve done well, but I know that we want to get to the level we have been in the past, so having three fellows really shows to me and the team, parents, and community that next year is going to be an awesome year, and we’re going to be back at the most elite level in the country.”