Debate attracts amazing young people- young people like Savannah Walker. Savannah was born in 1996 in Arizona but grew up with her parents and older brother in Louisville, KY. An accomplished scholar-athlete, she started a lacrosse team at her middle school and continued lacrosse and field hockey in high school. During high school she achieved a remarkable 89% success rate on shots she took on goal.
A leader amongst her peers, Savannah graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Louisville as a recipient of the Woodford R. Porter Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to African-American students graduating from a Kentucky high school who meet academic requirements and exhibit the aspiration to succeed and give back. She was quickly recruited onto the Malcolm X Debate Team at UL and was soon winning awards and tournaments. Within her first year, Savannah took 1st place in the JV division at the USC Alan Nichols Tournament, 2nd place in JV at the CSU Fullerton Kathryn Klassic Winter Debate Tournament and at the Samford Invitational, and cleared in Varsity at the University of Vermont Huber Debates. She also won multiple speaker awards in her impressive rookie year. Outside of debate and her studies, she found time to start the first UL Women’s Club Lacrosse Team and serve as its first President.
Savannah declared a double major in Communications and Sports Administration with a minor in Pan-African Studies, and debate lit her fire for social activism. By her junior year, she had become a vocal advocate for equity and social justice whose capacity to dream big and realize her vision inspired those around her. When Savannah’s mother passed away, Savannah founded the Deborah Walker Memorial Scholarship Fund to support teachers seeking advanced training.
Savannah tragically lost her life in a shooting incident at a concert at the Tim Faulkner Gallery in Louisville last March at the age of 20. Friends who were with her at the concert reported that Savannah pushed them out of the way of gunfire before she was shot. We are humbled to honor the legacy of Savannah Walker by dedicating the 2017 Summer Institute to this incredible young woman.