TILF Success Stories: Meet Chelsea Bryant
Posted by Trudy Richards on 12/03/2013
While other kids might be mortified at the idea of public speaking, TILF Scholar Chelsea Bryant was never embarrassed to stand up and speak.
Growing up, she had the makings of a good orator - outgoing, passionate, understanding - and Chelsea pursued that potential in junior high by participating in UIL.
“Now that I’m in college, I can say joining my school’s UIL program was the best decision I ever made because of every lesson it taught me,” she said. “Some of them were trivial (like learning how to make a meal out of convenience store food coming back from a tournament at 2 am), but most of them are ones I carry with me everyday.”
Magda Mirelez, Chelsea’s debate coach at Bay City High School describes Chelsea as the “epitome of the modern independent woman.”
“Her work ethic is inexhaustible, she is self-driven and is determined to set the standard,” Mirelez said. “But what truly defines Chelsea and what stole my heart almost from the moment I met her, was her belief that all people deserve to be treated with dignity.”
Despite the dog-eat-dog approach often taken in speech and debate events, Chelsea was a skillful and respectful competitor, Mirelez said. She participated in Cross Examination Debate and Informative Speaking, and advanced to state all four years of high school.
“Chelsea grew in knowledge, experience, in her ability to listen and became more patient,” Mirelez said. “What UIL does for students goes beyond the academic experience. UIL Speech empowers, lifts and sometimes saves the spirit of our most gifted students.”
Chelsea said that competing made her a confident and capable person.
“UIL taught me the value of hard work and dedication, and that with every struggle there is a way to overcome it,” Chelsea said. “I can’t count the number of nights I spent agonizing over a debate question or doing extemp research, but it always paid off in the end.”
Now studying political science at Baylor University, Chelsea is part of the Honors Program and a recipient of the Fox Sports Southwest Scholarship through TILF.
“Since I go to a private university, tuition definitely is not cheap,” she said. “Every dollar I can put towards my tuition, including the TILF scholarship I received, is extremely appreciated.”
Chelsea is on a pre-law track and is working to reach her calling of being an attorney. She hopes to help victims find justice in the courtroom as a criminal prosecutor. She is set to graduate in December 2014 - three semesters earlier than her peers.
“My school [BCHS] had an excellent AP and dual credit program, so I was able to come in with about 50 hours,” she said. “If I was just going to get my Bachelors, I would double major and stay longer, but I’ll still have three years of law school left. I’ll get my law degree earlier and save a ton of money, so win-win!”
As an extension of sorts to her UIL experience, Chelsea is now involved with the mock trial team, which competes nationally in courtroom simulations complete with attorneys and witnesses.
“Competing under the role of attorney has given me knowledge of basic rules of evidence and legal procedure, as well as helped expand the critical thinking skills necessary for law school,” she said.
Even though she’s busy preparing for her future, in the summer of 2013, Chelsea was able to fulfill a childhood dream.
“Politics has interested me ever since I was a little girl and I had the huge books filled with U.S. presidents and american history,” she said. “Interning in the Capitol had been my dream since I was in 3rd grade and getting to finally do it was the most amazing thing ever.”
Chelsea spent nine weeks on Capitol Hill with the Baylor University Washington Internship program, working for a U.S. state representative from Nebraska. As a Congressional intern, Chelsea gave tours, corresponded with constituents, wrote letters and press releases. She even watched representatives vote on the House floor and sat in legislative committee hearings. This experience further inspired her ambitions.
“I think part of what makes America so great is our Constitution and legislative process, and I would love to be a part of that system some day,” she said. “My ultimate dream would be to work for the federal government in Washington DC, either as a Congresswoman or a position within the Department of Justice.”
Admitting that she’s “mildly obsessed” with U.S. history, Chelsea recalled that there was no shortage of fun things to do on her downtime in the nation’s capital.
“I’ve been to the American History Smithsonian so many times I have the floor plan memorized,” Chelsea said. “But I have always loved DC; my favorite days were the ones where I would take the subway somewhere, explore different places, and just soak everything in.”
Back in Waco this semester, she’s just as busy as she was during her internship.
“I’m taking 18 hours this semester, and I’m in all upper-level courses plus starting my honors thesis statement,” she said. “My sorority and mock trial keep me extremely busy, plus I also work part-time in the admissions office and am studying for the LSAT.”
An active member of the sorority Alpha Chi Omega, Chelsea serves on the philanthropy committee, which is focused on domestic violence awareness - a cause Chelsea has always been invested in.
“I started volunteering at my hometown crisis center in high school, and I enjoy volunteering for one located in Waco,” she said. “At our recent campus-wide philanthropy event, I had the privilege to speak about my own personal experience with domestic violence to a crowd of about 200 people, which was both scary and incredibly rewarding.”
Chelsea uses her gift of speech to help others find their voice and change their lives. Her personality and perseverance are just a few things her friends and mentors value about her.
“She is vulnerable but understands she has the strength to overcome struggle,” Magda Mirelez said. “She is confident but realizes that others should be treated with regard. Chelsea is driven but knows desire requires a destination.”
Written by Jan Ross Piedad