Forbes Councils Member Interviews a Young Changemaker: Vayana Speech and Debate Institute feat. Loukya Kotla
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This article was posted by Christian Lords, a guest writer of Andrew Solomon’s, Space Enthusiast and Expert Blog Writer at Andrew’s World Bloggers. The interview of the young changemaker Loukya Kotla was conducted by Olivia “Relentless” Friedman, Futurist, Forbes Business Councils Member, and Host of the Great and Relentless Few Show, “One of the most popular entrepreneur shows on the planet!”
Olivia Friedman, Forbes Councils Member: “Oh, no problem Loukya. ” In knowing that change opens-up the stage for opportunities of empowerment for you and younger students which you teach, that also shows them how to become the voice for countless others, through speech and debate. What a way to empower others! How would you say you are following a more modern platform for communication, where other youth are involved — how do you get through to them using speech and debate as a tool? Or in other words, the same as Millennials call me, the “Millennial Whisperer” in marketing and business since I relate to them by meeting them wherever they are for buy-in, as opposed to assumed compliance due to our age difference. In that sense, tell me how such changes in communication may adversely affect businesses, should they not heed these major communications changes in society today and get onboard with how you teach speech and debate — preparing them for their bright futures?
As a CEO, Global Entrepreneur, Business Influencer, and Leader, I am not new to the business world. From learning the struggles of entrepreneurship to now creating my own platforms as well as utilizing platforms so graciously given and partnerships formed with Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, TedEd, American Express, Visa, American Corporate Partners, the United States Navy, and more — I am proud to influence several students across the United States of America and around the world and am not ashamed to admit I have mentored entrepreneurs and business owners in 33 different countries to date! However, Loukya I have taken under my wing as she offers something unique, rare — a type of determination I do not tend to see in many youth today.
I was fortunate to speak with Loukya Kotla and Andrew was kind enough to edit and post the interview here.
Who is she? The founder of the Vayana Speech and Debate Institute, to discuss how she is impacting society and inspiring a change through social advocacy.
Olivia Friedman, Forbes Business Councils Member: Tell me more about yourself, and by the way — congratulations! I’m so proud of you Loukya on 87(2) HR 78 — Introduced version — Bill Text in that you were honored for your service as an intern in the office of State Representative Jacey Jetton.
Texas House of Representatives
Jacey Jetton is a 7th generation Texan who represents Sugar Land, Richmond, and the surrounding areas in the Texas…
Loukya Kotla: Hello, I am a rising Junior from Obra D. Tompkins High School located in Katy, Texas. As an individual, I am extremely passionate, ambitious, and charismatic and like to channel this energy in many school clubs I participate in such as UNICEF (President), Speech and Debate Team (Congressional Debate President), Future Business Leaders of America (Top 5 — National Medalist), National Beta Club (Top 10 — National Medalist), TED-ED Student Talks (Conference Speaker), Mock Trial, and Model United Nations. Additionally, I did Competitive Horse Riding since I was 12 which has allowed me to explore my passion in Athletics. However, most importantly I am interested in Political Science, Law, and Finance as I plan to change the world through these outlets!
Olivia Friedman, Forbes Business Councils Member: Tell me more about your business Loukya.
Loukya Kotla: With pleasure Olivia, considering my immense passion in advocacy, I am the founder and CEO of Vayana Speech and Debate Institute, a service that educates students about the importance of public speaking, policy debate, and social advocacy. I started this business in June 2020 and from managing sponsored partnerships to creating several platforms through a podcast, website, Instagram, and YouTube, this business offers an opportunity for students to be empowered and learn valuable skills at an affordable price!
Olivia Friedman: What problem is your business solving?
Loukya Kotla: The goal is to make progress in students’ self confidence and participation in social advocacy, as it is crucial that young individuals understand the importance of voicing their opinions on a public platform. Several students want to make a change, but unfortunately many of them don’t know where to start because it is deemed as “unrealistic”. The goal of Vayana Speech and Debate Institute, is to provide an educational service that sparks an interest in public speaking and policy debate. Therefore, eventually providing an opportunity for students to be inspired and take action to start their own initiative and change society!
Olivia Friedman: Who are your students?
Loukya Kotla: The students of the Vayana Speech and Debate Institute are primarily around the age of 6 — 14, mostly elementary and middle school students. The service has grown from 50 to 500 students across the U.S in 9 months due to free workshops, Instagram Influencers, Articles, and Facebook Advertisements. I created an alluring brand across several platforms to attract parents and students to pioneer a social change!
Here are some of the reviews:
Kim: “I never expected that my daughter would be so interested in the program, but she was extremely happy to learn, which means your teaching was interactive! She was asking why the program was only a week long, and is super excited to learn more.”.
Mitra: “This program was systematically planned. All the kiddos were thoroughly enjoying themselves and fully engaged. A big thank you for building confidence with the kiddos! The debate topics were really interesting.”.
Dave: “My son had lots of fun in the program and with Loukya’s constant positive encouragement he progressed a lot in terms of his confidence. Thank you Loukya for sharing your knowledge and guiding them. Looking forward to having another session with you. Rishaan really enjoyed your class and has learned so much.”.
Gande: “Loukya is definitely much ahead of her age. Keep it going at the same pace, she will be a rockstar! God bless!”.
Olivia Friedman: How did past projects and/or experience help with your business?
Loukya Kotla: As an adolescent, I was always passionate about policy and social advocacy. Therefore, I started Speech and Debate at the age of 12. As a student, I competed at the District (UIL), State (TFA), and National (NSDA) level. Additionally, as an Officer and Congressional Debate President, I represent the 3rd best team in the state of Texas and 120th best team in the U.S. Throughout my journey as a competitor, I was recognized as Merit, Honor, Excellence, Distinction, and a Special Distinction Speaker and qualified in Congressional Debate (Top 200 in the U.S), Original Oratory (Top 50 in Texas), and Domestic Extemp. Furthermore, I qualified, competed, and advanced in national tournaments such as NIETOC, TOC, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Glenbrooks, and Emory. Through this outlet, I interned for a U.S Congressional Campaign, T.X Congressional Representative, U.S Congressional Representative, and hopefully soon a U.S Senator.
Although it has been said that Loukya did assist on tasks that were indirectly related to projects for a Senator. She has high integrity, as I as well as others always instill in her, its importance. Hence her omitting the Senator from this interview to remain clear and concise, as to not mislead anyone or inflate the scope of her activities. This is commendable. Loukya goes on to say…
Loukya Kotla: “This experience taught me how to lead a team and introduce custom legislation which is why I was awarded the Certificate of Congressional Recognition.”
Loukya Kotla Cont’d: Additionally, I learned how to manage partnerships and research with major organizations such as UNICEF to embark a change on humanitarian incentives. These past experiences and projects have helped inspire me to advertise, encourage, and allow young students to embrace their skills and explore endless new opportunities through my program!
Olivia Friedman: Who is on your team?
Loukya Kotla: Currently, I have been managing the Vayana Speech and Debate Institute on my own. From managing financial operations to creating a curriculum, I have organized every aspect of the business. However, in the process of expansion, I am recruiting empowered leaders on the Vayana Speech and Debate Institute team.
Olivia Friedman: How do you measure success?
Loukya Kotla: Personally, success isn’t measured by how much profit I receive from my business, but instead the impact I make on students across the U.S. Therefore, empowering students who are truly interested in Public Speaking, Policy Debate, and Social Advocacy, and hope to pursue this interest in the future is what I consider success.
Recently, I received a message from Elizabeth Holmes, a student participating in my program. In the message, she explained how the program inspired her to take action and create an initiative of her own. Therefore, she created a non-profit organization and was recognized by the news and was asked to speak at her State Capitol. After reading the message, I was filled with joy, as I reached my tangible goal to inspire an individual to take the initiative, and to change society on their own. This finally made me realize my service has made an immense impact on students’ lives, little by little.
Olivia “Relentless” Friedman: No worries, remember — baby steps lead to giant steps after gaining the right tools to get us there, and to have the character and tools that will sustain us, so we stay there and grow beyond to new heights! By the way Loukya, from a young business-lady’s perspective, What do you think of the very recent NCAA announcement, referencing college athletes now being able to market their brand, image, and likeness? I heard you gave congrat’s to the ‘Cavinder Twins’ Hanna and Haley Cavinder on their Boost Mobile deal, back in July, after having also made NIL history! What are your thoughts?
Let’s make a deal: NCAA athletes cashing in on name, image and likeness…
Cavinder twins share details of recently signed NIL deals - ESPN Video
Fresno State basketball players Hanna and Haley Cavinder talk about the marketing deals they have recently signed in…
Olivia Friedman: Speaking of business and long-term plans, such as the Cavinder Twins are planning for — what’s the long-term vision for your business?
Loukya Kotla: My goal is to grow the Vayana Speech and Debate Institute through its students and create a world wide impact. I want to encourage my students to be active when it comes to major political issues facing society such as racism, gender inequality, and mental health. Currently, the business within 9 months now has over 500 Students and over $10,000 in Profit! However, to help those who are less fortunate 15% of the profit is donated to underfunded Speech and Debate Programs! I hope to donate more in the future with the expansion of the business. Additionally, I hope to interview well known public figures who are advocating for a change such as Dr. Fauci, Michelle Obama, Trevor Noah, John Cornyn, Oprah Winfrey, United States Presidents, Amanda Gorman, Tulsi Gabbard, and Hasan Minaj. They as well as others have inspired me so much throughout my journey as a student speaker, advocate, and researcher, and have motivated me to pursue a passion through leadership.
I believe the Vayana Speech and Debate Institute will expand much more than a business or service but instead an outlet and platform for empowerment and inspiration!
Olivia Friedman, Forbes Business Councils Member: Wow! Thank you Loukya Kotla for talking with me. I am amazed by all your accomplishments.
It makes perfect sense that young individuals such as Loukya exist and are taking the stage front and center in Public Speaking, Debate, nd essentially preparing themselves to communicate responsibly, wisely, yet also effectively, at such a young age. It is these people that will, no doubt, change the world!
#ChangeSociety #OliviaFriedman #LoukyaKotla #CongressionalInterns #TimpkinsHighSchool #StellarStudents #AMillionMentees #CavinderTwins
— Published on August 6, 2021 — Updated August 28, 2021