Rylan Schaeffer is an argumentative teenager, who admits he gets a "vindictive pleasure" out of "ripping people apart."
Fortunately for Schaeffer, an incoming senior at Mountain View High School, he's been able to find a way to earn academic accolades by being contrary. Instead of quibbling with his parents over his curfew or quarreling with teachers in the classroom, Schaeffer channels his energies into his high school's Speech and Debate Club.
"I enjoy public speaking tremendously," Schaeffer says. He thrives in front of audiences and he loves the idea of changing people's minds and influencing people's opinions on controversial issues.
"When I was young I wanted to be a television personality, a politician or a preacher," Schaeffer says, adding that he is sure he will choose a career that affords him plenty of chances to exercise his passion for public speaking.
Schaeffer earned third place at the 2009 National Forensic League tournament -- the largest speech and debate competition for high school students in the country.
He is proud of his accomplishments and feels that he is learning valuable life skills while having fun.
"It's definitely changed me," he says. Through speech and debate, Schaeffer has met and made friends with interesting people from around the country. It has helped him become a more effective communicator and a more critical thinker, which has helped him in his personal and academic endeavors. This coming school year, Schaeffer will serve as president of the Speech and Debate Club.