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EPISD Student Spotlight: Samuel Licón Kligman

(CORONADO HIGH SCHOOL -- Oct. 4, 2021) — Coronado High Samuel Licón Kligman already boasts an accomplished resume as a high-school senior. Not only is he one of only five 2021 National Merit Semifinalists in El Paso (all of whom are EPISD and Coronado students), but he’s also a national-award winning debater who served in internship roles with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and The Borderplex Alliance. Community Engagement sat down with him virtually for this edition of the EPISD Student Spotlight to highlight his accomplishments and get his take on what is next for this outstanding senior.

EPISD: Tell us about your honors and achievements in high school.

SAMUEL L. KLIGMAN: I am a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, a National Hispanic Scholarship Recognition Program winner, an AP Scholar with Distinction, a two-time Arthur N. Rupe Scholar, a two-time UIL Solo and Ensemble State Qualifier, a finalist in the 2019 El Paso Society for Musicians of the Future Competition for Young Musicians, a silver medalist in the National Spanish Exam, a Questbridge College Prep Scholar, and a recipient of the Fein Fellows Award. Moreover, I have published two editorials for the online publication El Paso Matters, and was the Extemporaneous Speaking Champion of the 2019 Texas Ambassador Great Debate for the National Hispanic Institute (NHI). 

EPISD: What activities are you involved in at school? 

SLK: In school, I am Congressional Debate captain for the Coronado High School debate team, and I have held this role for two years. Furthermore, I am founder and president of the Coronado Cultural Awareness Club, and I am a member of the National Honor Society. I am also involved in High Q. 

EPISD: Tell us about your experience and accomplishments in debate?

SLK: I have been involved in debate since my sophomore year, and I participate in Congressional Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, United States Extemporaneous Speaking (USX), and International Extemporaneous Speaking (IX). I enjoy participating in debate because it allows me to simultaneously sharpen my oratorical and argumentation skills while expanding my knowledge of current events. With regards to my accomplishments, I am a five-time Texas Forensics Association (TFA) State Qualifier across four events (Congressional Debate, Lincoln Douglas Debate, USX, and IX), and I was a State Semifinalist in Congressional Debate for TFA. Moreover, I am a two-time UIL 6A State Qualifier in Congressional Debate, and I placed fourth overall in the 2021 UIL 6A State Congressional Debate Championship. Lastly, I am a two-time NSDA National Qualifier in Public Forum Debate, and I advanced to the elimination rounds of the 2020 NSDA National Tournament in Public Forum Debate. 

EPISD: What did you do for the Borderplex Alliance as an intern? 

SLK: In the Summer of 2019, I was chosen as a data and analytic intern for The Borderplex Alliance, which is a nonprofit economic development firm for the El Paso-Las Cruces-Ciudad Juárez region. As an intern for The Borderplex Alliance, I conducted multivariate economic research on workforce solutions and labor incentives. I also helped organize bilateral economic development meetings, and I even participated in a meeting between private sector leaders and approximately a dozen members of Congress. 

EPISD: Tell us about interning with Congresswoman Escobar.

SLK: Last summer, I was fortunate to be chosen as one of three individuals for Congresswoman Veronica Escobar’s District Office internship. Throughout my internship, I took calls from constituents, and I engaged in casework involving passport renewals, citizenship applications, and Veterans Affairs complaints. I also had the opportunity to draft memos for the Congresswoman and be her lead staffer at community engagements. Overall, I believe that my internship taught me invaluable research skills that will help me succeed in college, and it allowed me to develop professional relationships that will help advance my career in the future. 

EPISD: What do you look forward to most this school year – especially after more than a year of virtual school? 

SLK: I look forward to developing stronger connections with my teachers and classmates. Throughout virtual school, the online format prevented many students from interacting with each other and their teachers because it was simply awkward to start a conversation in the Zoom format. However, I believe that the return to in-person school will help teachers, students, and administrators develop closer relationships by facilitating conversations that were inhibited in the virtual world. 

EPISD: What is your role as chair of High School Caucus for the El Paso Young Democrats?

SLK: As High School Caucus Chair for the El Paso Young Democrats, I run our caucus’ social media page and advocate for the beliefs of my caucus on the Executive Board of the El Paso Young Democrats. I am also responsible for recruitment of high school students across the city of El Paso who identify with the platform of the Democratic Party. 

EPISD: What advice would you give to freshman? 

SLK: Do what you love. You should never do an extracurricular activity that you do not enjoy simply because it looks good on a college application. Throughout high school, I have always chosen to do activities that I find interesting and enjoyable. This guidance has not only allowed me to explore my interests in politics and public speaking in a deep and profound manner but has also made it easier for me to maintain a balance between my extracurriculars and my academics. 

EPISD: How are you preparing for college? 

SLK: I am currently in the middle of writing my college essays, and I hope to submit all my college applications a month before they are due, which is easier said than done           . Moreover, I am talking to my friends in various colleges across the country to gauge their thoughts on the institutions they attend. 

EPISD: Where do you plan to go to college and what do you plan to major in? 

SLK: I plan on applying to a number of competitive colleges, but my top choices in no particular order are Princeton, Harvard and Stanford. Moreover, I plan on majoring in political science with a possible minor in Spanish. 

EPISD: Anything you’d like to add? 

SLK: I would not be where I am today without the support of my family, classmates, teachers and my community. I would also like to wish everyone a safe and healthy school year. And, most of all, GO T-BIRDS!

Interview by Reneé de Santos