Model UN students sit together at a table at the delegate assembly gathering in SeattleDec. 21, 2023 - CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Political Science major Miguel “Miggy” Aguilar will never forget his 21st birthday speaking at a Model UN (United Nations) regional competition in Seattle.

“I feel like most people wouldn’t be stoked talking in front of 100 people on their birthday,” Aguilar said. “But part of the reason I started to do Model UN is because it’s the best thing you can do for yourself to expose yourself to other perspectives.”

Another reason he won’t forget his 21st birthday at the Model UN conference in November is because CSUCI’s team took the conference’s top award, “Outstanding Delegation,” along with six more awards.

The team won four “Distinguished Delegate” awards and two awards for research papers at the 2023 Northwest Model United Nations (NWMUN) – Seattle competition.

“I’m just enormously proud of them that their preparation really paid off this time,” said Professor of Political Science Andrea Grove, who coordinates Model UN with Political Science Lecturer Chris Scholl. “They’re always working hard to prepare, but it doesn’t always play out. This time it did, with their writing and their speaking and their confidence level.”

Taking home “Distinguished Delegate” awards were Bria Schraeder for representing France on the Model UN Security Council; Evan Vanoni for representing Uruguay for UNESCO; Kylie Keagy for representing South Africa during the General Assembly Plenary and Ellie Crist, representing France in the General Assembly.

Crist also won for outstanding “Position Paper” in the General Assembly. The other research paper awards went to Arin Cavin for representing France in the World Health Assembly.  It was especially gratifying for Crist to take home two awards as it was one more indication that she did the right thing changing her major to Global Studies.

“I wanted to do immigration law and when I took a Global Studies class, it hit every passion I’ve ever had, so I switched majors,” Crist said. “As I took this Global Studies class, I realized the passion I have for underprivileged groups spans across the world. There are health issues, environmental issues, and so much more.”

Students stand in front of the "Public Market" sign in SeattleAnybody from any major can join Model UN, in which students from colleges and universities across the nation participate in mock UN council summits and committees, set up like the actual United Nations conferences. Groups of students represent different countries at various committees that address subjects like water shortages, human trafficking, climate change, women’s issues, and dozens of other national concerns. The fall session was in Seattle, and the spring session in April will be in New York City, with a tour of the United Nations building.

“This class proves how interconnected we are,” Crist said. “The world is becoming smaller and whatever major, whatever career you go into, you are connected with the global arena in some way.”

Many Model UN students graduated in 2023, so Grove was concerned about not having enough legacy members to guide the new members, but Aguilar stepped up.

“He was our team captain,” Crist said, “He encourages everybody all the time.”

Aguilar’s family came to the U.S. from Canada and Aguilar admitted he was not happy at first. Then, as a freshman, a classmate told him about Model UN. Aguilar shrugged.

“And he said, ‘If I beat you in a Minecraft game, you have to join Model UN,” Aguilar said. “I’m very glad I lost.”

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