The Voices Foundation and the Pinnacle Scholarship Foundation co-sponsored five students for the Pinnacle Winter Seminars.

Joshua Tang

Joshua Tang is a junior at Alief Kerr High School in Houston.  He has lost both parents and lives with his widowed grandmother, who has limited income due to disability.  He summarizes his experience:

"Pinnacle was extremely helpful. The two most beneficial parts of the seminar were the lab instruction and the tournament. I was placed in the top lab, so the other students that I worked with have extensive knowledge about debate and academics as a whole. Because of that, "bouncing off" case ideas etc was very beneficial. Also, the lab leaders--Sam Duby and Neil Conrad--provided an amazing amount of leadership and information to make the four days of camp as informational as a two-week camp. 
The second part of the camp that was mostly helpful was the tournament. I was able to debate six rounds against some of Texas' most competitive debaters. This allowed me to build my experience and learn from debaters that have achieved more than me". 

Salman Syed

Salman Syed is a sophmore at Niskayuna High School, New York.  His experience: 

"Most debaters will agree that the Jan Feb topic is the most important topic of the year. It is the resolution for some of the biggest tournaments including Stanford, Berkley and Emory. Being prepared is key to succeeding and qualifying for the TOCs. As a debater coming from a program without any formal coaching, it is challenging to prepare for tournaments with competition that contains people that are TOC-qualified. Some of my friends told me about PDI and how it would be one of my only chances to prepare for the Jan-Feb topic before a big tournament. Attending PDI really did help. The lectures provided me with a multitude of ideas which I could apply to write case. The lab sessions helped me improve as a debater with all the drills I did and it demystified the topic. Lastly, the camp tournament let me showcase my abilities as a debater, and implement everything I learnt at the seminar. The seminar really did pay off since I was 2nd seed in the sophomore tournament, finals of it, and had a 3-1 prelim record in the PDAA tournament (placing me within the top 10 of the PDAA tournament itself). I know that everything I gained from Pinnacle will help me everywhere I go this season".

Stephanie Sorensen

Stephanie Sorensen is a foster child from the San Diego area.  She is a junior at San Dieguito Academy. "The opportunity to attend Pinnacle was very educational and an overall great experience.  The staff at pinnacle were very open to help me with case writing, blocking out arguments, overall refutation specifically on theory and a-priory arguments.  Going to pinnacle helped me a lot to prepair for the Victory Briefs Tournament, and has made prepping for Berkeley Tournament so much easier.  Going to Pinnacle Winter seminar in Houston, Texas has open my eyes to a whole different way in which people debate. I found that it is a lot more flow oriented which helped me a lot at VBT, and will help also with Berkeley". 

Lan Le

NgocLan Le is a sophomore at West Campus College Prep High School in Sacramento.  She immigrated with her family from Vietnam eight years ago.  She spoke no English at that time, and limited fluency with English has constrained her parents' employment opportunities.  Her experience at the Bay Area seminar:

"While attending Pinnacle, the highly qualified and accommodating instructors reinforced my knowledge and skills.  Despite the copious amount information available online, learning the fundamentals is often difficult for new debaters. Debate concepts vary from being very complex to extremely vague. Having an experienced and knowledgeable instructor is instrumental. Fortunately, the instructors at Pinnacle were extremely thorough and concise when answering questions. Personalized attention from the instructors was readily available. They were more than willing to accommodate any student who needed extra help or clarification".

"The cross examination and refutation drills were very beneficial. These drills greatly improved my word economy and often lead to an intellectually stimulating discussion. Intensive research and deep analysis were crucial to success during camp. This was especially evident during the practice debate rounds. The practice rounds allowed me to apply and reinforce the skills I have acquired initially. All of the drills and insightful lectures allowed each student to maximize his or her experience. I have become significantly more confident in my abilities after attending Pinnacle. Most importantly, I was able to grow as an individual during those three days".

Sean Wynn

Sean Wynn is a senior at Norman High School in Norman Oklahoma. Sean resides in a single-parent household with his mother,  who is currently in graduate school working toward a doctorate in communications. His experience: "Going into Pinnacle's Winter Seminar I was quite uneasy. I wasn't sure if this experience was right for me, seeing as how it was a shortened debate camp in a place unfamiliar to me. Upon arriving I was surprised to find some of the best instruction that I have been able to find in my entire debate career. In particular, Neil Conrad(Assistant Coach at Greenhill School) and his lectures were phenomenal. He gave arguments on the upcoming debate topic that was insightful and extremely strategic. All in all, Pinnacle was a great experience, and I extend my deepest thanks to the Voices Foundation".