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Meherika, Grade 11, Joins NSDA Student Leadership Council as First and Only International Student

Meherika, Grade 11, Joins NSDA Student Leadership Council as First and Only International Student
Tanya Olander

Making SSIS and NSDA history in one fell swoop, Grade 11 student, Meherika was recently selected as one of only 24 delegates on the newly formed Student Leadership Council of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA). But it almost didn’t happen.

When Meherika (above, at far right) came across the message about the NSDA’s Student Leadership Council on the NSDA portal, she knew she had to apply. As external Vice President of the SSIS Debate Club, Meherika is an experienced debater who takes every opportunity to hone her skills. 

Support from Family and Mentor

With gentle encouragement from her mother and the nomination from her debate coach, Diana Sorobey, Meherika submitted her application.

Meherika with fellow club members from the SSIS Debate Club.

But soon after, Meherika received word that international schools are not represented by a district chair, making Meherika ineligible. 

However, Meherika is not one to give up easily, nor is her debate coach. Ms. Sorobey recognized Meherika's leadership abilities and impressive qualifications and was determined to make a case for why Meherika would make an ideal candidate. 

Paving the Way for International Schools

Highlighting the importance of diverse international representation, Ms. Sorobey made a compelling argument aligned with the NSDA’s Equity Statement. Since the organization was first established in 1925, it has grown to include many varied communities and nationalities which should be represented. 

Ms. Sorobey’s persistence paid off - the NSDA agreed to make adjustments to their existing structure to ensure that international schools would be eligible. And now, in joining the NSDA Student Leadership Council (SLC), Meherika can add a host of impressive SLC firsts - the first SSIS student, the first student from Vietnam, the first international school student, and an SLC founding member!

Dedicated club coach, Ms. Sorobey (at left) and students celebrate the SSIS Debate Club's participation in the Harvard International Tournament.

A Milestone Achievement

As one of just 24 delegates selected, Meherika will be the only student from outside the US, which she sees as an opportunity to promote international representation within the NSDA. 

"Debate has taught me to examine various perspectives on issues. I am excited to apply these skills in a leadership capacity to help make the NSDA a more equitable and inclusive experience for all students, even those based outside of the US,” says Meherika. 

Meherika's appointment to the Student Leadership Council is a huge achievement, not just for her but also for SSIS and the NSDA. We are confident that her passion, determination, and leadership skills will significantly impact the council and support the NSDA’s goal of creating an inclusive and equitable speech and debate experience for all students.


More About SSIS Debate Club

The SSIS Debate Club has approximately 120 members this year, across High School and Middle School.

  • 2018: SSIS Debate Club founded
  • 2019: First SSIS students attend NSDA Nationals
  • 2022: SSIS Debate Club opens to middle schoolers
  • 2023: First club member appointed to NSDA's Student Leadership Council 
  • 2023: Two club members to attend NSDA Nationals in Phoenix, USA in June 2023.


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