Capital's Rahma Gaye wins state debate

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Capital's Rahma Gaye wins state debate
Rahma Gaye

It was probably the passion in her voice that the judges noticed first. Rahma Gaye, a junior at Capital High School, recently won state champion in the Washington Interscholastic Athletics and Activities Speech and Debate Tournament with her speech, “What’s in a Name?” The speech talks about her experience of being a young Black Muslim woman in America and the need for more positive representation.


Rahma spoke from the heart, showing both deep feelings and humor. “I think as a judge, you look at the amount of feelings somebody has,” she said. “You also have to be interactive and put some jokes in there.”


This is Rahma’s first year participating in speech and debate. When she began working on her speech back in the fall, debate club advisor Jonathan Moore knew immediately it was something special.


"Rahma's speech was one of the most powerful I have heard in my life. I was immediately moved the first time I heard it," Moore said.


The actual text from Rahma’s speech is now being closely guarded from publication. She plans to use it again for the national competition in Kentucky this June. Between now and then, she may make some minor edits, but essentially it will remain the same - her personal reflection about what it means to grow up as a Black, Muslim woman in America.


Even after winning the state championship, Rahma remains humble. She remembers freezing upon hearing the news she had won. “I was really shocked,” she said. “There were so many really good speeches and it took a moment to settle in, like is it really me? Are you sure?”


Rahma’s teachers, however, weren’t surprised her speech won. "Rahma is such an amazing student. I have known her since middle school and am so proud of the young woman she has become,” Moore said. “Her intelligence and determination are two key factors that define her. She doesn't let things get in her way. When she sets out to accomplish a goal, she does so. Rahma has struggled with self-confidence this season, never thinking her speech was 'good enough.' Anyone that heard it couldn't figure out what she was talking about. I hope Rahma now realizes just how powerful and amazing she is. Nothing can hold her back."


Rahma will present her speech next in the original oratory category of the national competition in Kentucky in June. Capital sophomore Meredith Morgan also qualified for the national tournament after having taken first place at the district event in extemporaneous speaking.