San Diego, CA
Our alumni update this month features Nicholas Kjeldgaard, who grew up in Oakdale, CA in California’s Central Valley and competed with Modesto Debate and Covenant clubs from the 2009–2011 seasons. Nicholas attended the inaugural 2010 Stoa NITOC and NITOC 2011 after competing in the NCFCA for one year prior to Stoa’s formation as a league. He channeled his speech and debate skills into his college experience at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) where he continued his debate career for another four successful years. Nicholas graduated from PLNU in 2017 with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and currently works as a Producer at NBC San Diego where he enjoys being part of an Emmy award-winning news team.
During his Stoa career, Nicholas competed in Team Policy debate and a variety of limited-prep speeches, including Extemporaneous, Impromptu, and Apologetics. One of his favorite memories of Stoa was an early tournament of his where the prompts for an Extemp final round were rife with unknown acronyms for various international political groups and were asking if there was “renewed hope for peace”. After delivering a speech on World Peace in general — and finding out that the question was referring to a specific political party in Turkey — Nicholas learned an important lesson and now has a story to laugh at. On the debate side, Nicholas enjoyed getting to showcase one of the very first example rounds for introducing Parliamentary debate to the Stoa community at an early tournament in Southern California.
Nicholas took a gap year after high school to do a video journalism program that was based in Hawaii before heading to the field in Jordan and Israel. At that point in time in 2013, the Syrian crisis was starting to garner some worldwide attention but the crisis had not been noticed by most Americans yet. He describes a pivotal moment on that trip, “I remember sitting on the steps of a market in Tel Aviv and decided that if people in the U.S. couldn't see the faces of the refugees I was working with, they would never know what was going on around the world. That’s how I made my decision to become a journalist.”
In his current position as a Producer at NBC San Diego, Nicholas produces the morning news shows as well as gearing up technical and behind-the-scenes work for local, State, and Federal elections in 2020 as the station’s pre-election producer. Starting next year, he will become the producer for the NBC 7 Responds team where he will work to report individual stories of people in the San Diego area bringing issues with local companies or government agencies to the attention of the community at large.
Looking ahead, Nicholas is hoping to continue educating others about local communities and telling stories that people otherwise may not have known. He points out, “In recent years, I have seen a growing distrust of journalists, which I feel is not usually based on fact. I hope to continue to tell the stories of our communities well and in a way that everyone can learn from.”
Nicholas describes Stoa’s impact on his life as incredibly helpful in training him to think on his feet and hold up well under pressure. He notes, “I’m so grateful to my parents for finding speech and debate, and to have had incredible teachers in the Winthers and other parents and alumni. I would not be where I am today without the skills I learned in speech and debate.”