Alumni Link

News about our community and beyond

Debate Team Veteran Continues to Make an Impact

Sara Inman BA’08 with Scott Herndon

Sara Inman BA’08 with Scott Herndon, director of debate and head coach of the UT Dallas Debate Team

Sara Inman BA’08 may have graduated from UT Dallas in 2008, but she remains a fixture around the University’s debate team. A core member of the team during her undergraduate years, Inman now serves on the team’s scholarship committee, evaluating potential recruits and scholarship recipients. She returns to campus multiple times a year to meet new team members and offer advice.

“We have a group Listserv that Sara is still on,” said Scott Herndon, director of debate at UT Dallas and debate team head coach. “She’ll even chime in to remind students about their travel logistics for competitions.”

While in high school, Inman was recruited to UT Dallas to join the debate team. Once on campus, she became a standout debater on the national stage. Inman was the first woman and minority qualifier to the National Debate Tournament from UTD, and the only woman nationwide in her class year to qualify for the tournament during each of her four years of college eligibility.

Inman’s debate achievements helped propel her success after graduation. She earned a debate scholarship to law school and eventually graduated from Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. Inman now serves as an attorney with Drinker Biddle, where her practice focuses on insurance coverage, bad faith litigation, commercial litigation and litigation involving catastrophic injuries.

Reflecting on the benefits of her debate experience, Inman wanted to give back to her alma mater and extend a helping hand to students who might otherwise not be able to participate in debate. As a member of the Drinker Biddle Women’s Leadership Committee, Inman advocated for her firm’s partnership in supporting the University’s summer debate camps and made a lead gift to establish the Drinker Biddle Women in Debate Scholarship aimed at attracting, retaining and advancing women’s participation in high school debate.

ice dancers

“Our students do thousands of hours of research to prepare for a debate,” says Scott Herndon, UT Dallas director of debate. “Members of our team leave UTD with a graduate-level understanding of the topics they discuss.”

“Increasing diversity and promoting women’s leadership is an issue that is important to me both inside and outside of debate,” Inman said. “I am lucky to work at a supportive law firm that appreciates the value of debate and endorses these same values.”

Only about a quarter of collegiate debaters are women. While the Drinker Biddle Women in Debate Scholarship is open to all applicants, as part of the selection process students must discuss the importance of their being a woman in debate or address how a woman in debate has helped them grow.

In addition to advancing the diversity goals of UT Dallas and the institution of debate across the country, this scholarship provides an extraordinary academic experience.

“Debate camp is expensive. It costs about $2,500 for a student to attend for three weeks,” Herndon said. “This scholarship provides the opportunity to attend camp to someone who might not otherwise be able to afford it.”

Such an experience could provide a significant advantage for students’ educational outcomes and professional success. According to the Dallas Urban Debate League, at-risk students who participate in debate are 80 percent more likely to finish high school and 50 percent more likely to attend college as first-generation students.

“Debate is a path to college that a lot of students don’t realize is available to them,” Herndon said. “For a lot of students who debate, this is a reason to stay engaged in school and a way to reward them for being smart and well-read.”

In addition to motivating academic success, Inman sees debate playing a role in developing informed, articulate and discerning professionals.

“Debate refines oral advocacy and research ability,” she said. “In my opinion, there is no activity that better prepares you for the practice of law. I am glad to be a part of UT Dallas’ efforts to inculcate these skills and values in future generations.”

— Daniel Steele

Alumni Link

This email newsletter is delivered full of stories of interest to the University's graduates.
Browse all issues »


Alumni are automatically subscribed to the Alumni Link upon graduation. The open subscription service also lets anyone subscribe at any time.
Subscribe | Unsubscribe


Interested in connecting with a specific school or have a question? Please visit the Office of Alumni Relations page to find the appropriate contact.


The University of Texas at Dallas

Office of Development and Alumni Relations
800 West Campbell Road, DGA10
Richardson, Texas 75080
(972) UTD-ALUM |

© 2017 The University of Texas at Dallas