Patrick Henry College
Lauren Mitchell (IPP, 2016) loves to debate and has competed in speech and debate tournaments for five years. During her senior year of high school she attended twelve tournaments and won Princeton’s moot court competition.
For Mitchell, attending PHC was an easy decision. Moot court is what PHC does best, she thought, and in terms of scholarships, there was no better school for getting moot court scholarships.
“My whole life I’ve been raised with a classical education and I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that would cultivate that further,” she said. “PHC was the perfect step for that. I felt like I connected immediately in the classrooms.”
PHC’s approach to education taught her that excelling academically isn’t about grades.
“It’s about growing and learning as a person,” she said. “It’s about cultivating curiosity, and engaging with others on a deeper level. Coming out of my first year at PHC, I have an even deeper appreciation for the classical approach to education.”
During her freshman year, she competed on Chancellor Farris’s moot court team and qualified for nationals, her team earning 17th place. While Mitchell was thrilled to have qualified for nationals during her first year of college, she’s looking forward to her sophomore year.
Unlike other students who spend their summer poolside, Mitchell spent the summer between her freshman and sophomore year jumpstarting a business – the Young Speakers Association of America. Her goal is to unite the nation’s best speech and debate coaches to provide top-tier educational services to debaters. She plans to accomplish this through an online training center that provides coaching for students. The second way to accomplish this is through the Youth Speakers Bureau, an idea she dreamed up in high school with her debate partner. They realized that speech and debate competitors don’t have many opportunities to get paid to speak. Mitchell’s solution is to connect students to events that will pay them to speak, and she’s currently working to find ways to enable students to travel to these events with no expense.
Lauren (r) with one of PHC's forensic's teams
Mitchell’s long-term goal for the Young Speakers Association is to create a branch called Lend-A-Voice, an idea she created her senior year of high school, working in some of the poorest school districts of Los Angeles. Discouraged by the apathy and illiteracy displayed by the junior high students, she noticed that they loved to talk about themselves and easily connected with her. Her goal is to go into these school districts and build confidence through success.
“Through being able to speak and gain confidence through public speaking, they will be encouraged to do better in school,” she said. “So many studies I’ve seen connect your ability to speak in public with success in every other area in your life.”
Not unfamiliar with launching successful businesses, Mitchell in 2010 launched the Washington Project, an organization designed to encourage high school students to rise above low expectations. Mitchell designed an internship program that had 50 teen writers from around the globe.
“Being a teenager is kind of silly when you look at it from a historical perspective,” she said. “Just go back a few centuries and see what kind of successes you could live up to. I had teens writing from Europe, India, and Asia giving their perspective on American culture,” she said. “They were so excited to reach out to Americans and encourage them and say, ‘You’ve got to wake up! You can’t be taking school for granted. We’re not!’”
Mitchell was encouraged to see how seriously people took the Washington Project. They got friends involved, formed groups in their high schools, and took it their ideas into their communities.
“The website is just a website, but making a physical difference in communities was the goal,” Mitchell said. “That was the most rewarding part.”
When Mitchell came to PHC, she didn’t have anyone to pass the Washington Project off to. In order to focus on her school, she ended the program before coming to PHC.
This fall Mitchell is planning to be a student coach in debate as well as continuing her leadership in the Young Speakers Association. After graduation, she hopes to pursue her MBA and JD through a joint degree and work as a businesswoman.