This month’s spotlight features Mikayla Hirsch, who competed in LOGOS CO from 2011-2014. She currently lives in Westminster, CO. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and currently serves as video production and English teacher.
Words have always enthralled Mikayla. But, as she explains, her love for deep conversations and her competitive spirit do not work well together in every situation. Debate, however, became a place for these two seemingly opposite tendencies to thrive: “My family visited a tournament, and I was instantly sold: Teenagers wearing suits? Devising plans, arguing them, and presenting their ideas with confidence? I knew two things: (1) I was completely out of my league, and (2) these were my people. After that, there was no going back: speech and debate was my ‘thing.’”
While Mikayla says that, without a doubt, Team Policy remained her favorite event (“I went to tournaments to debate,” she tells us), she also loved Duo Interpretation and Mars Hill, which helped her develop the skills she needed in film school. She explains, “I went to film school after graduation and both those speech events helped me be a better storyteller. Duo because I practiced connecting to an audience through a unique medium and Mars Hill because it helped me articulate the connection between art and worldview.”
For the past 3 years, she has been a video production and English teacher at a public high school, though she is transitioning to a position at a Christian school where she will be teaching English (among other subjects) for the 7th-10th grades.
Teaching did not initially fit into Mikayla’s plans, but God opened doors for her, allowing her to eventually pursue this career. She recounts, “After graduation I attended Colorado Film School and was working on my degree in Communications with the intention of pursuing film/video production in some context. During my last semester of college, the Lord threw an opportunity in my lap to intern under a high school video production teacher, and I fell in love with teaching. I took over that position when my supervising teacher retired. I earned my English teaching qualification, finished my master’s degree, and gradually became more involved in organizing and developing curriculum. I was not planning on being a teacher and certainly not an English teacher, but I am having a lot of fun with it.”
As for Stoa’s involvement in her career choices, Mikayla says, “Few activities have impacted my life as practically and significantly as my time in speech and debate. Competing impressed upon me the importance of making your message relevant to your audience, the power of persuasion, and gave me the confidence and skills to make my message meaningful—a useful trick for teachers (and filmmakers too). When I was in film school, I won a couple of awards (including a regional Emmy) for a pro-life documentary I made, and I can’t imagine how I would have made it without the tools of persuasion that were instilled in me through my time in Stoa.”
Mikayla offered a final word of encouragement for fellow alumni: “I think life post-graduation has held a great deal of disillusionment. There is a lot to be grateful for, but there are also many dreams, desires, expectations, and visions that constantly die before my eyes—and I don’t think I am the only one. Whatever dream you have to bury today, be it big or little, I pray you remember that God is faithful. I don’t know exactly what his faithfulness will look like in my life or your life moving forward, but in any level of grief we experience, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is in a faithful and good God. He has been good in the past, and it is in his proven character to continue to be good.”