201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


CHAMPION: Class of 2024

Mauldin mentors young debaters

“[Mackenzie] has an uncanny ability to understand where other people are coming from and to meet them where they are in conversations, even if she doesn’t agree with them,” said Nicole Smith, the AP Psychology and English teacher here at Fullerton. “The combination of strength of conviction and thoughtful consideration of others is commendable in any person, but is especially noteworthy in a teenager.”

And it’s this ability to see an issue from all sides that propelled senior Mackenzie Mauldin into the top ranks of speech and debate, where she was able to reach the highest levels of competition including Nationals and the Tournament of Champions.

Mauldin is one to commend others for their hard work and effort and never mention herself. Her natural born gift of being a cordial individual makes her morally inclined to always thank, credit, and be selfless towards others. With talents ranging from baking to debating, Mauldin never fails to impress those around her. 

Debate Career

Junior Joshua Lee was the third place speaker and Mauldin was the fourth place speaker at Peninsula Invitational Jan 20-22. Both advanced to the final round. (Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Mauldin)

 From fifth grade to present time, Mauldin has been actively involved in speech and debate. Her passion for debate began when she attended an FUHS speech and debate showcase in fifth grade with her teacher. Throughout her high school years, Mauldin has qualified for the Tournament of Champions (highest level of debate), National Speech and Debate Championship, was the only person from Fullerton to ever qualify for TOC (Tournament of Champions) twice, and qualified for State Championships all four years.

This year, junior Joshua Lee and Mauldin broke (made it to the elimination round) eight out of eleven tournaments at Peninsula Invitational, West Los Angeles District Tournament, Cal Invitational, Golden Desert Debate Tournament, Glenbrooks Speech and Debate, Debate and Invitational, and the University of Kentucky’s National Speech and Debate Opener.

 Mauldin attended the Orange County Speech League on March 2, making it her fourth year of qualifying. 

“It was something that I really grew to love,” Mauldin said. “Some people have their sports, but speech and debate became my thing.”

Mauldin was first introduced to debate by her fifth grade teacher, Mr. McDonald at Gordon H. Beatty Elementary, now a middle school. Mr. McDonald and her sixth grade teacher Mr. Hopkins took Mauldin and her old teammate to a debate showcase where she fell in love as her teachers continued to support her.

Junior Joshua Lee and Mauldin qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament which will take place in Iowa on June 16-21. Lee, Mauldin, and sophomore Matthew Martinez are the first FUHS students to ever qualify for the State Championship, National Championship, and the Tournament of Champions. (Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Mauldin)

“The very last time I spoke to Mr. Hopkins, he said, ‘I expect to see you, or I hope to see you do great things,’” Mauldin said. “The expectation for me was like, I’m going to continue speech and debate in Mr. Hopkins’ honor because he really did so much to set up that foundation for me.”

To continue her passion for debate post high school, one of Mauldin’s dreams is to become a history teacher. This dream stemmed from Mauldin coaching her former middle school’s debate team starting from freshman year. 

“It is such a rewarding experience at the end cause I also would go on the weekends and judge for them,” Mauldin said. “It’s just so nice to know I’m helping someone and that my speech and debate experience expanded past what I was learning because it didn’t only affect me, but it affected other kids.”

Junior Joshua Lee, Mauldin’s current debate partner, said she has helped him to become a better debater as well. 

“Before we were debate teammates, she was my coach,” Lee said. “Just learning from her at the beginning was very helpful because she always reached out after a round that I did to ask if I needed help or if I needed to work on anything specifically.”

Senior Isaiah Jung, Mauldin’s past debate partner, commends her for her quick thinking and ability to “fight back” right away. 

“Mackenzie knows how to think on her feet,” Jung said. “I think one element of Mackenzie that she’s really grown throughout her debate career. She’s learned how to let go of relying on things that she’s pre-written and gotten a lot more comfortable with just speaking on her feet and coming up with good arguments and rhetoric.” 

Mauldin’s old debate coach, Serkan Tan, has been an integral part of Mauldin’s introduction to public forum debate and commends her for talents. “Mac is just an inherently compassionate and competent debater,” Tan said. “She always pulled her weight and was considerate of other team members, even through the banter.” 


Apart from debate, Mauldin one of yearbook’s editors-in-chief. Her experience complements Mauldin’s dream of becoming a history teacher and is an activity she has in common with her mother. 

“I just think it’s really cool because I go through my mom’s yearbook all the time and my mom was also editor in chief [at Norwalk High School], which is really funny, so it’s like a mother daughter thing,” Mauldin said. “For me, as a history major especially, it’s really cool that my name is on some of the artifacts that we’ll use to document what Fullerton was like.”

Family First

Mauldin said her biggest blessing is her family which makes them her priority before her own ambitions.

Mauldin, her aunt Nini (right side), and her mom Mickey (left side), go to Disneyland frequently as Mauldin said, “It’s basically the best mental health break because I can just enjoy myself while being physically active and enjoy the company of others.” (Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Mauldin)

“I feel very blessed because a lot of people didn’t grow up with their grandparents, but my grandparents were two of my best friends,” Mauldin said. “I’ve had them in my life since day one and they’ve basically helped to parent me with love because my mom was a single mom.”

Mauldin feels it is her duty making her family her priority because of the sacrifices they made for her to be where she is today. 

“I have to think a lot about my grandparents who are both immigrants and they literally fought their way into this country because my grandpa enlisted in the Navy,” Mauldin said. “A lot of what I do is for my grandparents because of how much they fought to make our family better.”

Baking and Music

Whenever Mauldin feels stressed or has free time, she enjoys baking sweet treats. 

“I think the reason I like baking so much stems from my grandparents, because my grandma especially, her love language is food and I like making food for other people,” Mauldin said. “I’m half Filipino and my favorite thing I’ve ever baked is called an ensaymada which is a sugar-like bun.”

Mauldin designed the album cover for Zee Avi, a Malaysian singer-songwriter, for her children’s playlist when Mauldin was age 6. This playlist is available on Spotify by searching “Zee Avi” along with many other songs with what Mauldin describes as “coffee shop vibes.” (Photo by Spotify)

A fun fact about Mauldin is she has an impressive list of Spotify playlists. “Right now, I have 200 playlists,” Mauldin said. “I have a playlist if it’s just me and my mom driving so it’s all of the music my mom listened to when I was a kid and songs from the forties, fifties, and sixties from when I’m in the car with my grandparents.”

One of the reasons Mauldin is hooked on music comes from a special bond she ended up making with a popular Malaysian artist. “When I was six, I drew something that said I love Zee Avi more than cupcakes and my mom took a photo of me holding it, posted it on Instagram, and Zee Avi reposted it,” Mauldin said. “[My mom and Zee Avi] started DMing and became decently good friends so when I was 5 or 6, I went to see her, got pulled up on stage, gave her a t-shirt, and we became friends.”

Mauldin eventually would have an album dedicated to her, with her art as the cover after her mom suggested Zee Avi make a children’s album. 

“I drew up a bunch of doodles and it was called Zee Avi Night Light so she took all of my art, put it together,” Mauldin said. “On the back it says ‘Artwork by Mackenzie Lynn’ and ‘For Mac and Mama Mick’, which is my mom’s nickname, Mickey.”


Mauldin decided to commit to UC Riverside even though the school does not have a debate team. Instead, she sees herself carving out time to coach young debaters while she studies history.  

Whether helping a school in Riverside or traveling back to Fullerton, Mauldin wants to help young debaters who can’t afford expensive coaches. “The goal is to pick up a small public school and help them out because they are the underdogs,” Mauldin said. “I know the experience of not having all of the private coaches and still having decent coaching.”

Unlike most students, Mauldin chose UCR mainly due to their ideologies and reputation for helping students move up in socioeconomic status. She has experienced what it’s like to be an underdog amongst her competitors who had financial advantages like private coaches. Her decision of committing to UCR stems from her belief that with the right guidance, anyone can rise to the top.

On top of choosing UCR for their ideology, she was intrigued by their College of History and Social Sciences (CHAS) program. “It has a wealth of opportunities that I really like,” Mauldin said. “There’s this one program that allows people with junior standing to go to either Sacramento or D.C. to have an internship with a college public policy and politics and I thought that was a really cool opportunity.”

Debate Terms:

Public forum: form of team based debate that advocates or rejects position and easy to understand

Breaking: when you “break”, you did well enough in preliminary rounds to make it to the elimination round

Seed: based off of number of wins acquired in preliminary rounds and average speaker score

Hit: oppose 

Bids: attain bids by getting to certain outrounds

Bye: A "Bye" is given when there are an odd number of teams, and it counts as a win so you don’t have to compete

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