By Ava Motes
Kirby Cabler, a junior delegate from Oak Ridge High School, fulfilled two different roles within the State Affairs committee today. She first acted as a proposal author, presenting her “Mental Wellness In Schools” proposition to a chair and panel of delegates. After deliberation had concluded, propelling her proposal to further State Affairs rounds, Cabler switched to the overseeing role of a chairperson.
“A chairperson manages the debate by imposing and uphold the parliamentary procedure within a state affairs forum,” said Youth and Government (YG) officer Dio Marvellous Nsofor.
While the State Affairs Forum is most frequently associated with the work of proposal authors in addressing current issues, the role of “chairs” is vital to regulating the discussion and impact of propositions.
“They make sure that the debate is equal and fair, and that everyone gets an equal opportunity to share their own opinions,” said Nsofor, “It’s all about leadership–they have to be willing to courageously lead.”
Cabler has committed herself to embody a leader among other members of the State Affairs Forum.
“I really enjoy seeing other competitors grow and guiding them towards that growth in parliamentary procedure,” she said.
Although Cabler is impassioned about the issues she has the opportunity to discuss a proposal author, she is partial to her duties as a chairperson.
“I have been competing in debate-like settings for so long that I care less about winning than helping others get to where I am in terms of experience,” Cabler said.
Cabler has been a member of her high school debate program for three years, rising in the ranks to serve on an elite debate council. She also held an intern position with a criminal attorney in downtown Houston last summer, giving her to the opportunity to speak with clients and organize plea bargains.
“It was one of the best experiences in my life, I learned so much grew really passionate about the subject matter,” Cabler said.
As a freshman, Cabler’s high school assembled their first Youth and Government team, and though the program suited her interests, only older students were allowed to compete. However, a handful of her fellow debate members attended the YG conference and encouraged her to join in subsequent years. Due to her passion for debate and criminal law, Cabler decided to participate in mock trial as a sophomore.
“I was really excited to do mock trial, but a week before the deadline, we realized that we didn’t have enough people,” Cabler said, “I ended up moving to State Affairs kind of on a whim, but I fell in love with it.”
Cabler worked as a proposal author her first year in Youth and Government, receiving high marks at the district level.
“I proposed an extremely researched proposal about sex ed in Texas, specifically repeat teen pregnancies,” Cabler said.
However, despite her vast extent of preparation, her proposition did not advance. “I was in a room full of like-minded kids from the same district, and they didn’t agree with my ideas,” Cabler said.
This year, State Affairs presented a new system for evaluation that focuses on presentation quality as opposed to the political alignment of your proposition.
“I’m happy that I get to be a chair with this new system, because I care so much more about how much work people are putting in than what they’re saying,” Cabler said.
The new rubric prides proposition authors on their degree of preparation and presentation skills. Ranking is determined by your performance, thus mechanics and accuracy are less important than confidence.
Cabler returned as a proposal author with the intent of advocating for mental wellness training and qualifications among public school staff. Due to her proposition partner inability to attend the state conference, Cabler had to present her ideas alone in front of the panel.
“I wasn’t too worried about it because of this new evaluation system. I’m used to public speaking, and I was really confident in my ability to convey these ideas,” she said.
Her presentation was successful, and she was excited to find that she was advancing further through the State Affairs Forum than she had before.
“Doing my proposal was really fun this year, but I still don’t think anything can top chairing. I’ve begun to realize that I really love these kinds of leadership roles,” Cabler said.
The summers proceeding and following her freshman year, Cabler worked as a counselor for a youth theatre camp.
“That was when I first discovered that I love working with kids and helping them grow in things that I was passionate about,” Cabler said.
She initially worried that she would be overly critical or jealous of the children she was working with, but soon developed an affection for assisting others.
“During the district conference, I was with a lot of first-time delegates and younger competitors. I had to provide them with more of a crutch, but it was cool to know that I was helping everyone get on the same page for state [conference],” she said.
Those who have worked with Cabler have a lot of respect for her oversight and advice, especially in these scenarios.
“Kirby really knows what she’s doing. She is just a natural at everything and I loved working with her,” said Brendon Nguyen, a delegate who took note of precedence and timekeeping alongside Cabler during today’s preliminary rounds.
“I’ve been doing two really different things today, and I loved them both. I am starting to graduate on to a more leader-oriented position… [but] I think there is value in absolutely every role,” Cabler said.
Today, she has proven herself adept at a wide variety of skills from confident debate to informed guidance. As she continues through subsequent rounds, she resolves to facilitate an enjoyable experience among other delegates and advocate for the mental wellbeing of all Texas students.