Andrew Eilola’s path in forensics speech began in high school when he attended speech camp. He was a 2011 national finalist in persuasive speaking while at Concordia College in Minnesota and coached at Moorhead High School.
After competing and coaching teams against Bradley while he was a coach at George Mason Institute of Forensics, Eilola took on a position as the new director of forensics and new in the communications department this semester.
When the position opened up, Eilola said he was excited for the opportunity at Bradley because of its reputation.
“This was a big transition for us,” said Cassandra Edlund, vice president of the Speech Team. “It’s been really great so far. He’s been very student-oriented and has worked with us trying to figure out what we’ve done in the past and how we can move forward in the best way with the team.”
Eilola said he plans to focus on more than just winning and placing.
“There’s a whole lot that goes into running a team, specifically this role,” Eilola said. “For the team, I’m trying to instil a healthy culture. While winning is sometimes important, it’s not my primary focus. We have 42 national titles here at Bradley. I think it’s important that we also focus on our students.”
The aim for this year is to make forensics a place that is fun and empowering for all students involved, not just for those who make it to the finals. Eilola also stressed the need for balance and trust.
“I’ve had great conversations with [Eilola],” Edlund, a senior public health education major, said. “He brings a really cool perspective about being about the students. If we have any issues or concerns we can address it to him. He’s someone we can lean on which is someone you need for an activity that’s super competitive and super involved.”
Students on the Speech Team are already seeing a difference in the dynamics of this new leadership. Eilola said he wants the speech team to have an even bigger impact on campus.
“I really want people here at Bradley to know what we do,” Eilola said. “I believe that the students on the team are incredible. I really want to showcase what they do to our community on campus.”
Eiola wants to take the Speech Team to a different level. He wants to see the team be as recognizable as the sports teams on campus and reestablish their reign in Illinois.
Eilola said students start at the the high school and middle school speech teams and are shown they can continue forensics in college. Students can give themselves a challenge to help better themselves here on campus.
“I think it’s a process of self-betterment,” Eilola said. “So much of what we do is crafting and realizing who your authentic self is. Recognizing what your voice is, in writing or speech, is the primary thing we focus on.”
According to Eilola, college is already a transformational process, and being connected with one’s goals and passions can further drive members on the team and refine their skills.
Besides the possible stress that can come with competing, travel and keeping students aligned, Eilola is enjoying his time here.
“I’m loving it here,” Eilola said. “When I came on campus, the culture and the way how everyone was so welcoming has made my academia life, work life and even life at home even greater. This was a great move for me, I’m on cloud nine.”