Tom Golden believes that his forensics team experience has a lot to do with his professional success.

“The skills I learned have helped me in how I make my living today,” said Golden, Class of 2011, who debated as a Suffolk forensics team member for four years, competing in such far-flung venues as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Hungary.

As Suffolk prepared to host the 36th Novice Nationals Speech and Debate Tournament for the first time ever, from March 9-11, Golden reminisced about his time on the Rams’ debate squad.

International debate experience

The forensics team opportunity “was one of the selling points for me to attend Suffolk,” said Golden, who was recruited for his debating prowess. “Having the chance to compete internationally and explore other cultures around the world was one of the highlights of my college career.”

As a student forensics competitor, Golden learned teamwork, public speaking, interpersonal skills, and audience adaptation. He uses all of those tools in his job today as a compliance examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

“Debating at Suffolk also gave me confidence and the ability to read a crowd,” said Golden. “That has helped in my current employment when making presentations to bank managers and boards of directors.

“As a debater, getting a judge to agree with you is a deciding factor. In my professional capacity, persuading bank management is the ultimate goal of my position.”

Skills that "set you apart"

Mary Sellaro, Class of 2016, feels that what she learned as a member of the Suffolk forensics team raised her value once she began her career.

“When a manager, vice president, or CEO of a company finds out that you can publicly speak, it separates you from everyone else,” said Sellaro, who works in the event marketing department for CarGurus, an online automotive company.

“You have a set of skills that sets you apart. Presenting and carrying yourself the right way is not something everyone can do, but it is definitely an advantage in the business world.”

Sellaro values the friendships she developed through debate and praised Coach Jodi Nevola for “teaching me most of the skills that I use today.”


Nevola, MA ’99, director of forensics, and Chris Fenner, BS ’95, MA ’97, are spearheading the Novice Nationals at Suffolk this week.

“The alumni of the Suffolk forensics team, who come back to mentor students and help as judges at local tournaments, have come out in full force to be part of this event,” said Nevola. “This national initiative would not be possible without the continued support of Suffolk alumni who have personally experienced the benefits of speech and debate competition.”

—Tony Ferullo