Jessica Chai

Liberal Arts Honors, Government
Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas

I am a recent graduate of Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas. I’ve dedicated the last six years of my life to competing in Public Forum debate. Throughout my career, I’ve qualified to TFA State, NSDA Nationals, and TOC as well as reached elimination rounds at various nationalcircuit tournaments. I’ve also earned NSDA’s highest honor, the Premier Distinction Degree. In my senior year, I was the captain of our successful public forum squad, where I facilitated squad practices once per week to organize tournament preparation. Despite the great experiences in debate, I realized that there was a distinct lack of female representation. I chose to use debate as a platform to critically analyze global issues from a feminist perspective, where I could not just discuss the policy aspect of topic resolutions, but also challenge the underlying philosophical discourse. I also became a mentor through The Debate Group where I connected with lowerincome students across the country to help subsidize technical debate instruction. Similarly, I started a nonprofit tutoring organization in 2020 to provide my community with the educational resources it lacked due to the pandemic. By building an organization from the ground up, I learned valuable lessons about productively using resources, cooperating with different perspectives, and actualizing my visions for the future. Through our fundraising and tuition efforts, we donated to Houstonbased organizations like SEARCH Homeless Services, NAMI, Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the Houston Food Bank. As president and a tutor, I’ve taught over 300 hours of essaywriting, and managed the organization by drafting the ByLaws, applying for our 501(c)(3) status, communicating with parents, and monitoring our budget. Some of my hobbies include listening to music (ranging from Billie Eilish to elevator jazz), thrifting at my local Goodwill or in my parent’s closet, and watching movies (my favorite/recent watches include Blade Runner 2049, Borat, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Gone Girl). I’m so excited to join the Dedman community, where I’ll have unique opportunities to not only grow among bright and passionate Longhorns but also make a real difference in this world.