Harper College’s Speech and Debate Team earned its first national championship at
the 2023 Phi Rho Pi National Tournament, hosted April 10-15 in Bethesda, Maryland.
Competing in Division II, the team took home gold medals in the overall sweepstakes and in the debate team sweepstakes.
Phi Rho Pi is the national junior and community college forensic association and honor
society, which offers the annual tournament with 11 individual events, three forms
of debate and interpreters’ theatre. In addition to Harper’s team wins at this year’s
tournament, members won multiple individual honors:
Gold medalists: Kaleb Koch, of Barrington, Impromptu Speaking and Public Debate; Olimpio
Messer, of Prospect Heights, Public Debate; Prince Priyanshu, of Palatine, Public
Silver medalists: Kaleb Koch, of Barrington, Parliamentary Debate; Seth Margolis,
of Palatine, Parliamentary Debate
Bronze medalists: Isabella Abarca, of Palatine, Impromptu Speaking and Public Debate;
Nathan Gonzalez, of Lake in the Hills, Impromptu Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking;
Olimpio Messer, of Prospect Heights, Impromptu Speaking
The Speech and Debate Team celebrated its success with coaches Margaret Bilos, Bill
Lucio, Miguel Melgar and Jeff Przybylo, who has been coaching the team for 27 years.
“We knew we had a great team, but winning the national championship was just something
we figured would happen when all the stars aligned. 2023 was that year,” said Przybylo,
who is also a Harper professor. “Margaret, Bill and Miguel have worked tirelessly
to prepare this team to do their very best. We are proud of all the hard work that
these students put in over the past year to get ready to bring the championship to