IC welcomes new head coach of debate and speech


Shawna Merrill joined Illinois College as the program's head coach on June 18.

In her new role, Merrill will serve as a coach and advisor for students at all levels of the debate and speech. She will also be responsible for recruiting students to the program and offering camps, youth programming, and public forum-style debates to engage the community. 

Merrill said she is excited about IC’s growing debate and speech program and hopes to build on the momentum of the past three years to continue re-establishing Illinois College as a national leader. She plans to expand competition offerings to include more events that will fit the needs of current students and attract additional students to the Hilltop. 

"My initial goal is to further develop a really comprehensive program here at Illinois College that doesn't just focus on individual speech and debate events, but that fosters an atmosphere where everyone has an opportunity to do a little bit of everything for a well-rounded experience." 

Participating in debate and speech develops skills in critical thinking, listening, and research and has been demonstrated as excellent preparation for a number of fields, including law, and politics. 

Merrill has a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in communication from Missouri State University where she competed in speech and debate and judged on the collegiate level.

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932, the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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