top of page


Tyler, TX

This month, we are featuring Ryan Woolsey! Ryan grew up in Tyler, TX, and competed with Venture and Invictus Fides for four years, from 2011 to 2016, and competed at NITOC in each of his competition years. Immediately after Stoa, he attended Texas A&M where he completed a BS in Finance in 2019. He currently works in the US Treasury Department as an Associate National Bank Examiner of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) where he helps regulate national banks for the federal government.

Ryan’s first exposure to the world of speech and debate was through a debate camp run by Suzanne Nasser. He attended, despite the fact he didn’t know anyone involved, and got completely hooked. Afterward, Ryan and his friend Philip Baker, with the help and guidance of Jennifer Woolsey, Wendy Baker, and Dawn Sarna, created a 2-person club named Venture. That same year they started competing in Lincoln-Douglas debate at tournaments.

He admits that the whole thing was pretty overwhelming at first. “I was super deer-in-the-headlights,” he says, “I knew my room number and case I had learned at camp, and that was it. It was a humbling experience.” But, he continues, “I had a lot of fun, seeing people who I saw as peers and hung out with, winning trophies. I felt like I could do this.”

The next year, they had 16 total competitors in Venture and Ryan took on a coaching role. Ryan loves LD, saying: “I am a debate guy through and through. I loved LD, it was my competition, and the one I put a lot of time in…I learned values are everywhere. It even helped with conflict resolution. When coworkers did things in ways I disagreed with, I asked myself “what are their values?” It helped me to empathize with others by recognizing someone else’s value, but still being able to argue for your own values while acknowledging and respecting their values.”

He recalls the most meaningful thing he did during his debate career was when his club started the Go Light Your World speech and debate tournament. They used it as a way to share the story of Jimmy Brazell, a Godly young man who died young but left a huge imprint of the lives of everyone he met as he showed the love of Christ from home to his mission work in China. Jimmy Brazell was a friend of Ryan’s, and seeing his legacy encouraging hundreds of kids through the tournament stuck with him.

Ryan decided to pursue banking as a career because it brought together the passions he had fostered through debate with purpose. He says, “With debate we are big-picture, and I really like that. Then I fell in love with banking and seeing how it equips communities, works with charities, and gives my work meaning. With OCC, I’m looking from a bank management angle but seeing everyone’s different values and how they overlap. I value safety and soundness. I basically get to run the bank for a couple of weeks to make sure everything is run smoothly.”

That is not to say this job has been easy for Ryan. At 22, he is the youngest employee in his office. And because his job involves finding ways for banks to better manage themselves and then presenting his conclusions, he says it requires a lot of confidence to speak as an expert to such intelligent groups. Ryan notes that “speaking effectively sets you apart from others.” The skills he honed in speech and debate did wonders for his ability to speak boldly.

Ryan encourages fellow alumni to share what they’ve learned with others. “As alumni, we’ve been through a lot. There are a lot of unknowns as homeschoolers and we are now on the other end. We have gone through all those questions and are able to see how our lives have been changed. I think it is important to be there as a resource, source of encouragement, and a contact.”


bottom of page