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This month we feature Esther Wickham, who competed with Dikaios in San Bernardino, CA, from 2013 to 2019. Esther is currently attending The King’s College in New York City, majoring in Journalism, Culture, and Society with a Pre-Law minor.

As the youngest of six kids, Esther was exposed to speech and debate from a young age through her older siblings. She quickly fell in love with speech and debate, and was excited, albeit nervous, when she finally had a chance to compete at her first tournament.

Her favorite events were Duo and Parliamentary debate. Both events challenged her and taught her valuable skills on patience and understanding while working with another person. She loved the creativity that Duo provided, and the quick-paced critical thinking skills Parli taught.

Esther cherished her experience in the Stoa community. One of her best memories was during her 8th grade year, when she advanced to outrounds in two events. She stood up from her chair only to realize the trees overhead had left sap all over the seats, and now, her pants. Her friends all came together to loan her fresh competition clothes, and she ended up competing in red shoes, a white shirt, and a navy blue suit. “So I was basically representing the colors of America,” she quipped.

She also cherished the more serious moments. After she had given a Persuasive speech on a personal topic, one of the moms who had judged her came up to her afterwards. That mom had been through a similar experience and proceeded to share truth and encouragement with her. “It was such a good conversation,” Esther said, “it showed me the beauty of being vulnerable in competition.”

Esther is now studying Journalism, Culture, Society, and Pre-law at The King’s College. She always wanted to pursue an education and live in New York, so attending King’s has been a great way to do both. After college, she hopes to either work as a political journalist or attend law school working in criminal justice.

She credited Stoa with fueling her love for community, politics and writing. “A lot of things from speech and debate have influenced my education and career goals. If I weren’t a part of Stoa, I probably would have never heard of The King’s College. But the biggest thing I have learned is loving God and others well while living your life for the kingdom and following God’s will, whatever that looks like.”

Ester also encouraged alumni to get involved with Stoa: “Though every institution is not perfect, there are many things that the Stoa community has given to us as alumni. What we learned competing in speech and debate has equipped us for the higher education and career world. Though we continue to grow and change our perceptions of the world around us, the least we can do is give back to the community that gave so much to us.”


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