Student Stories

Model UN Team Goes Undefeated, Ranks First In Country

“Winning” at the United Nations might not be attainable in reality, but the Model United Nations Team at UChicago is no stranger to victory. After traveling to five conferences this fall and going undefeated, the team has won the title as the number one team in the nation.  

The team consists of over 50 first-years and 30 different upperclassmen of a variety different majors— stemming from chemistry to political science. They spend hours training and practicing before they fly, drive, and bus across the country to compete against other universities and colleges.

This quarter, the team traveled to conferences hosted by Georgetown University, Columbia University, Boston University, University of Pennsylvania, as well as a conference hosted by the non-profit American Model United Nations. At each conference, the UChicago team received the highest honor: Best Large Delegation.

While competing, students learn valuable skills like negotiation, public speaking, teamwork, and formal writing. Those who perform well in these areas are given an award, and the team with the most awards wins a “delegation award” for their school.

While one might think the Model UN team only participates in “traditional”-style committees where each student represents a country among the 193 countries in the UN General Assembly, they also participate in historical simulations of major events of the world—where both research and a deep historical understanding is necessary to succeed.

“To me, it’s always been the inquisitive nature of UChicago’s education that really sets us apart from others,” said RJ Ruano, one of the Vice Presidents of the team.

“Just like all of UChicago, members of our team are the students who are curious about everything. We’re eager to learn and discuss any topic out there, which gives us a competitive advantage and also makes for a great campus community,” he added.

Along with RJ, Corinne Riley, fourth year and President of the team, attributes partial success on the Model UN circuit to the camaraderie among its members: “The Model UN team really is a family at UChicago, and that showed this fall,” Riley said. The team has a tradition of a mentorship program along with other social traditions that span decades.

Aradhana Parikh, the Director of Training on the team, found that the team’s education in the College helped it succeed on the circuit.

“Our UChicago education, which emphasizes rigorous research to test the strength of your assumptions and helps identify common themes in people’s ideas, was especially useful when working with other delegates to arrive at a solution,” she said.

The team will continue to compete this quarter, travelling to three other conferences hosted by University of California Berkeley, Harvard University, and McGill University. The University of Chicago hosts their own conference in the spring. We wish the students on the team the best of luck!