Written by Keana Mirmajlesi, Rutgers University, Class of 2018
I was actively involved with my high schools’ Model UN program since the beginning of my freshman year. By the time graduation rolled around, I had attended a dozen conferences and helped train numerous underclassmen as they began their own careers in Model UN. Now, as I have finished up my last year in college, I look back and see that this activity has shaped my college experiences in more ways than one. The lessons I learned in and out of committee have given me the knowledge and skills to make important decisions and overcome future obstacles.
My passion for Model UN throughout high school made a career in politics seem to be the only realistic way for me to reach my goal of improving the lives of others. Yet, I had done enough research for conferences to recognize that a career in politics does not always lend itself to the type of impact I wanted to have on the world.
Bureaucracy and political games limit the ability of capable professionals to rapidly develop and implement solutions to problems. Instead, I was drawn to the impact of NGOs such as LifeStraw and Doctors Without Borders. These groups use science and medicine to create a tangible impact on communities around the globe. Model UN introduced me to applications of science and engineering that I had not previously considered, and with this knowledge in mind, I began my career as a college student studying biomedical engineering.
As I entered the world of STEM, I quickly saw that the tools I learned in Model UN could be applied to more places than just the committee room. As a woman in STEM, I became a minority in a number of academic settings. I relied on the speaking skills I developed in Model UN to confidently ask questions in a classroom of one hundred fifty students. I used my research experience to explore advances in science and technology in order to translate them to work being done in the lab. Model UN also helped prepare me for some of the disappointments I experienced in college.
In Model UN, I found that thoughtful debate and extensive research did not always reap the desired results. However, I learned to take such defeats as a learning experience and continued to work hard at future conferences. In college, I faced rejection on several fronts, but I refused to let them shake my confidence. Instead, I continued to work hard and looked hard for other opportunities, eventually finding success in unexpected avenues.
Model UN is not a program designed solely for the future politicians of the world. Rather, it provides an introduction to skills than can be applied to a multitude of situations. Throughout my time in the program, I was introduced to diverse opportunities both domestically and abroad.
By expanding my understanding of the global community, I was able to tackle college with energy and an open mind. As I encountered challenges and obstacles, I fell back on the basic skills I learned to overcome them. Model UN has allowed me to make the most of my college experience by helping me to confidently go out and explore new opportunities.