Tricks Up His Sleeve-Elijah Rojas

In my favorite quotation, Helen Keller teaches us: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” The essence of adventure stems from change, and change will occur throughout your life, with or without your consent. While adapting to change is often difficult, over the course of the last four years, I have found an exorbitant amount of solace in knowing that, in this department, I have an advantage over most people. Something up my sleeve that has gifted me the strength and individual capacity required to impress just about anyone I come into contact with, (most recently the CEO of a multi-million dollar company.) Change is something I have the ability to embrace and fearlessly enjoy. That being said, to effectively explain my somewhat secret advantage when approaching life’s adventure, I must provide a foundational understanding of where it all comes from.

While trekking through my high school adventure, I found safety in school. Not only do I love learning, but when life drove me from my “home”, I always found respite in room 233, my Competitive Debate classroom. It is in this classroom that I found my cheat codes for success in life. Debate has been the most influential activity I have had the blessing of participating in. While I was provided countless adventures in my 7 years of Boy Scouts, participation in DECA, Mock Trial, Youth Court, employment experiences, and countless other activities, Debate stands out. Through Debate, yes, I was given a voice, but that barely scratches the surface of what it has done for me and so many others.

Through Debate, I learned how to speak for others, giving a voice to those who need one far more than I. Through Debate, I found professionalism in my presentation, dress, and mannerisms. These professional skills have inarguably been what has gotten me hired to multiple jobs with hiring requirements far exceeding my resume’s tool belt. Through Debate I gained perspective of the real world. I acquired an understanding of the endless suffering happening world-wide, and more importantly, what can be done anywhere in the world to help reduce it. With Debate I was able to learn skills of adaptability that frequently leave perspective peers and superiors in awe. Through Debate I was introduced to philosophy which has been pivotal to my personal development and the founding of my ethics. Through Debate I learned how to think critically, examine logistics, and research like a champion. Debate has shaped me, through and through.

I never imagined that I would attend a university without a popular Collegiate Debate Team. I spent high school expecting to study at Missouri State University or West Kentucky University. I barely considered universities with smaller Debate programs. I have spent 50+ hours a week doing Debate prep since I was 14. I loved every minute of it. Yet, this year, I cut that number closer to 10, and have been branching my passions away from the activity. Having been lucky enough to experience Debate through my high school career, I have found that I no-longer feel the need for a Debate team to feel content. I am okay anywhere this world throws me because Debate injected me with the values it has to give, and they are always in my repertoire ready to be pulled out at the first sign of a threat. I will never be a competitor in any Debate program again, and because of Debate, I am okay with that.

My passion for Debate truly gave me sight. It allowed me see the world around myself, and opportunities in my immediate reality. Yet, as high school winds down, I also see that I have been without a vision of my future other than in Law, which I simply do not enjoy. (Debate kept me from sinking three years and tens of thousands into law school too.) While Debate has always been my home, while I will remain involved in supporting my local Debate teams, and while I will always love the activity that was there for me, I have decided to listen to fate. The world has been trying to show me that a stagnant “home” is simply not where I am meant to be any longer.

I have learned that if I am not uncomfortable, and constantly shrowding myself with change, I am not progressing my personal development as efficiently as I could be. I have learned that the trick is— if you begin to get comfortable with where you are, you need to run. Run toward adventure. On the other side of adventure is nothing but a better you.

With my desire to expand in conjunction with my recent discovery of just how many opportunities Debate has provided me, I possess the vision to confidently change the trajectory of my future. 

I am comfortable knowing that I will be successful in this life. 

What can I say? I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.