Seton Hill Students Represent Albania in 2023 Model UN

Seton Hill University’s award-winning Model United Nations (MUN) Team traveled to New York City for the National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference in April 2023. The NMUN Conference provides students of any major the opportunity to practice negotiation, speaking and writing skills with thousands of peers from universities around the world. This year, Seton Hill’s MUN team represented Albania. 

Seton Hill students attending the conference included: 

Two other students, Zachary Hamm (political science pre-law major) and Elizabeth Schall (music therapy major), supported the year-long research and writing required to prepare for the conference. Dr. Roni Kay O’Dell, associate professor of political science and global studies and Dr. Susan Eichenberger, associate professor of sociology, acted as faculty advisors. 

The team represented Albania on six of the MUN simulated UN Committees, including:

  • UN Security Council (Ryan Dzurko and Kimberlyn Furajter) 
  • General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security (Pietro Porco) 
  • General Assembly Second Committee on Economic and Finance Issues (Meghan Cutshall and Sarah Minghini)
  • General Assembly Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues (Hannah Potter) 
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (Thomas Paul and Nicholas Seto)
  • Environmental Assembly (Sophia Soloman and Jarred Spellman)

Dr. O’Dell started Seton Hill’s MUN program in 2016 and serves as the main content advisor. She also serves as an Advisory Council Member to the National Model UN (NMUN) organization.

“I was honored to act as the SHU MUN team's advisor as we prepared to represent Albania,” she says. “I observed intense dedication and commitment from our students to work with others to address challenges that our world faces.” 

Seton Hill Students & Team Receive Honors at Conference

Students take leadership roles at the conference, such as the Head Delegate role taken this year by Gabrielle Bubin. Head Delegates support their team members in all of the committees during the conference, providing communication and moral support during difficult negotiations. 

“My favorite part about being Head Delegate was getting to see how excited the delegates got discussing their topics,” Gabrielle said. “It was wonderful to see everyone get a chance to put all their hard work into action. This conference leads delegates to become the global citizens we need to create positive change.” 

"We had the chance to discuss issues that are currently affecting our world and to come up with real, workable solutions that were submitted to the UN. Being able to work with people from all over the world; from Afghanistan to Argentina and from the UK to Australia, was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of us."

One of the highlights of the NMUN conference is the closing ceremonies in United Nations headquarters. The ceremonies take place in the great hall where the UN General Assembly meets annually. This year, Seton Hill’s team received a Distinguished Delegation Award for their work representing Albania. Team delegates Nicholas Seto and Thomas Paul received a position paper award.

“The NMUN gives you the opportunity to research and debate essential topics of the future," Nicholas said. "I was honored to receive a position paper award for the paper I wrote jointly with Tom Paul on nuclear waste management and improving safeguards for nuclear facilities for the IAEA.”

“We had the chance to discuss issues that are currently affecting our world and to come up with real, workable solutions that were submitted to the UN,” agreed Thomas. “Being able to work with people from all over the world; from Afghanistan to Argentina and from the UK to Australia, was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of us.” 

Seton Hill also received the honor of being assigned to the Security Council (SC). This small committee (15 teams representing 15 countries) simulates the important work of the UNSC. (The main organ of the UN tasked with responding to international security threats.) On the Security Council, Ryan Dzurko and Kimberly Furajter worked with fellow delegates on the issue of financing for terrorism. The team also responded to a rising simulated threat during the conference, that of maritime piracy. 

“I was able to explore international law, cooperation, and decision-making from a new point of view," Kimberlyn said. "Interacting with fellow committee members allowed me to learn so much about others' perspectives on creating and implementing international laws. I was able to work on compromising for the best interest of all involved parties, leading to many new friendships and allies within the Security Council.”

“Meeting and working with people from around the world is something I will always remember," Ryan added. "This was a great opportunity for our team to work on both diplomacy and cooperation!“

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

The conference has made a lasting impression on the delegates. 

"Being able to see all the hard work that you put into creating a solution to such a complicated problem really puts into perspective the importance of the work that we do,” said Hannah Potter.

"I am beyond grateful for the amazing experience I had at the conference,” said Pietro Porco. “The people I met, the friends I made, the things I learned, the food I ate, the amazing places I saw, and the sleep I never got - there will be a lot to remember from this great week.” 

“Visiting the UN was an eye-opening experience for me,” remarked Jarred Spellman. “Getting to sit in the room where so many important people have made differences in the world was so special.” 

“I was able to be a part of the United Nations Environment Assembly Committee,” said Sophia Solomon. “I observed intense and meaningful conversations, speeches, and negotiations toward the purpose of achieving strengthening action toward SDG 14.” (The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 is to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification.)

Academic & Professional Skill Development 

Students who participate in Model UN apply the experience from the conference in many ways. 

"Every part of the NMUN experience is so relevant to my future, and that is part of what makes the conference so incredible,” said Sarah Minghini. “I was able to combine my background from both my Political Science major and my Communication major to be a more well-rounded delegate. Networking with students from across the country, practicing public speaking, refining my negotiation skills, and working to become a better leader will help me in my future career."

"This conference provides a unique opportunity for an immersive learning experience," Sarah added. "It encourages diplomacy, negotiation, and the culmination of months of research in the construction of draft resolutions. I am extremely grateful to our faculty advisors for their dedication and support, as well as my fellow delegates for their hard work and commitment to international peace and justice."