She was a valedictorian at her graduation from Houston's Phyllis Wheatley High School and attended the all black Wiley College on a modest scholarship from the YMCA. She worked three jobs to make ends meet, she said, and when her English professor asked her to try out for the debate team, she wasn't sure what that was. "We didn't have debates in high school," she said. "I guess I did all right. He stood at the back of the chapel and I read from the front. That was his test."And Wells--who says she talked Washington into playing Melvin Tolson in the movie--offers this advice:
What's her advice for today's college students? "Learn to speak well and learn to express yourself effectively," she said. Her training as one of the "Great Debaters" carried Wells through a successful life and career and, at 95, continues to serve her well as the interviewers line up at her door.We've had visitors from all over the United States, and as far away as Japan, Denmark and Africa looking for information on Wells--clearly, an eloquent woman whose story resonates today.