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Political science students recognized at UN conference

Lauren Roberts

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As the only school from Texas, nine Midwestern students involved in the political science independent study came back with the “Outstanding Delegation” award at the 54th Midwest Model United Nations conference Feb. 19-22 in St. Louis. This is the first time students from MSU participated in the conference. MSU represented El Salvador this year since it presented an opportunity to represent a country outside of the USA.

Linda Veazey, political science assistant professor, suggested that students attend the conference. She attended a school that is smaller than MSU, the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

Veazey said, “For me, Model UN was a ‘transformative’ experience. I felt like I learned so much and it taught me a lot about public speaking. It taught me about research and about working in teams and also it really did create a family in my political science department. It taught us so much about putting politics in action and working with other people.”

Veazey’s experience with the model UN is what led her to believe that MSU students would also benefit in the conference.

Back Left to Right: Emily Baudot, Madi Parker (Soph Political Science), Ian Potthoff (Senior Political Science), Brad Hunt, Tiernan Harris, and Julie Brady (Soph Political Science)  Front Left to Right: Alexis Gay, Amy Brister (Head Delegate), and Brandi Rhoads (Senior Political Science and International Studies. Photo provided by Steve Garrison

Back Left to Right: Emily Baudot, Madi Parker (Soph Political Science), Ian Potthoff (Senior Political Science), Brad Hunt, Tiernan Harris, and Julie Brady (Soph Political Science)
Front Left to Right: Alexis Gay, Amy Brister (Head Delegate), and Brandi Rhoads (Senior Political Science and International Studies. Photo provided by Steve Garrison

“I think more happened in the four days we were gone then I have experienced in two years here at school,” said Emily Baudot, junior in political science.

Amy Brister, senior in political science and history, said, “For the first time we actually had to take a stand. We actually had to say this is what I believe, this is what I think and for the first time I had to tell people in my committee you are not right.”

Leadership and the ability to manage people is something Brister learned that she was capable of as head delegate.

“I was elected head delegate one week before we left. We needed a head delegate and nobody else wanted to do it.” Brister said, “I’m not normally a leader, but I went I’ll do it.”

As the head delegate she had to keep up with everyone in her committee and all the others. She had to know everyone’s concerns and what they were doing to take back to the head delegates meeting so leadership would know what was going on.

“Within my own committee I became a leader not because I was the most vocal or because I was the one writing the papers but because I was the one going around to all of the delegates going what is your opinion and how can I express it so that everyone knows what everyone thinks. I tried to keep my committee on even footing.”

For students to be successful in their roles as representatives of El Salvador they had to be prepared. In order to propose programs and amendments the students needed to study the history, culture, and the current politics of El Salvador. Steve Garrison, chair of the political science department, and Veazey choose El Salvador because they were interested in Latin America country.

Veazey said, “Coming from the United States one of the teaching goals was teaching the students about what would it be like to live in a completely different country.” The USA is a very large and powerful nation and El Salvador is a small nation and developing nation. Garrison and Veazey thought understanding the world from a different point of view and how international politics can change when approaching it from a developing countries point of view would be a good exercise for the students.

Before attending the conference the major concerns for the team was making sure that everyone was equally prepared. Veazey and Garrison made sure their students knew it’s not about what you achieve but how you feel at the end of it. Rather than being graded, the independent study is about the experience that they had.

The attending students wanted a professional atmosphere to get as much out of the conference as they could. Not following the rules or taking the conference seriously is what caused some stress for Baudot.

“The fact that I was able to deal with it at the end of the day, that was really cool,” Baudot said. “Certain delegates who were less prepared affected the simulation in a negative fashion in that it made it less realistic.”

Working in teams helped Alexis Gay, sophomore in political science, who wants to be a politician. Gay said, “It’s good to know how to work with teams and to compromise. Know how to get what you want done without being aggressive, well aggressive but not violently aggressive.”

With the success of their first conference Garrison would like to send the students to a national conference in New York next year. “If we can get the funding. We know that there are budget restrictions and we are looking into fundraising to help pay for it.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Political science students recognized at UN conference”

  1. Hanwool Lee on March 4th, 2014 5:16 pm

    Good story.

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Political science students recognized at UN conference