Skip to content

2024 - From Competitor to Educator to Podcaster: ECC Professor Talks His Way Through Life

Tags: Accomplishment | Faculty Profile
Published 07/08/2024
From left to right: Cherly Corley, Jacoby Cochran, and Jhmira Alexander at the National Forensics Association Hall of Fame. Photo Credit: Tafari Melisizwe

From left to right: Cherly Corley, Jacoby Cochran, and Jhmira Alexander at the National Forensics Association Hall of Fame. Photo Credit: Tafari Melisizwe

Jacoby Cochran, communications studies adjunct professor at Elgin Community College, has been inducted into the National Forensics Association Hall of Fame for the spring of 2024.

“All the credit should go to my coaches and teammates, like Ryan Tinlin, who helped me write speeches that would go on to win national championships,” Cochran said about his nominator. “We really rely on each other.”  

The Auburn Gresham native’s many wins in competitive forensics include accomplishments like being named a two-time top speaker in Illinois, a four-time top speaker in the country—the current record holder—a regular tournament season winner, and multiple state champion. His induction is a testament to his successes.

Cochran attended the induction ceremony in April. 

“It meant a lot that my friend nominated me,” Cochran said. “I’m usually uncomfortable getting awards, but I’m glad I went. I got to see a lot of old friends, and the coolest part was seeing young people perform. Seeing them still find value in this activity and all the ways it has evolved and changed, it felt very inclusive and was beautiful to see.” 

Cochran’s first exposure to speech came during his junior year of high school when a flyer caught his eye. His background in speaking at church and performing in school plays encouraged him to learn more.

“It became something I picked up very naturally,” Cochran said.

His new talent in forensics led Cochran to attend Bradley University, where he studied communications and competed on their award-winning forensics team. 

“Seeing that Bradley had over 40 national championships gave me something to aspire to,” Cochran said. “I was always a big sports fan, and I saw a team that had history and built a legacy. I wanted to go and make my mark.”

Through the years, Cochran has continued to thrive in the world of forensics. Using the skills he said he gained through competing led him into a career field he loves and flourishes in.

“I really started to see how these skills I had from speech translated,” Cochran said. “A lot of what I was doing in speech was educating people and educating myself. I found a real love for the classroom while working toward my master’s degree.”

Teaching became an interest while studying pursuing his Master’s Degree in Communications at Syracuse University. There, he taught undergraduate courses as part of his degree requirements and started to see himself as more than a performer and competitor but also an educator. 

Prior to teaching at ECC, Cochran’s career path included teaching jobs at Harold Washington College in Chicago, St. Xavier University, and DePaul University. Cochran began teaching at ECC in 2021 and continues to teach as an adjunct professor at DePaul University.

“My students notice that my teaching style is very dynamic and a little different, so when they’ve looked me up, they’re curious about what competitive speech looks like, and they’ve always been really cool about it,” Cochran said.

In addition to education, Cochran has added podcasting to his skillset in the last few years. Three years ago, the company City Cast began looking to build podcasts in cities around the country, starting in Chicago.

“It was a natural fit because of my background as a speech competitor, somebody who researched a lot and wrote their own material, performed for various audiences, and had to break down material quickly,” Cochran said. 

When Cochran discovered speech as a junior in high school, little did he know he’d begin shaping his professional life and who he is. 

“Those six years of speech changed the trajectory of my life,” Cochran said. “They also made me a more empathetic and thoughtful person. My worldview opened up, and I don’t think I’d be in the position I am now in, where I get to learn about my city every day and discuss important topics with many cool people. I was just a kid who was told he talked too much, and now it’s all I do.”

Check out Cochran’s work at