The Charger Blog

University’s Model United Nations Charges to Record-Setting Finish at New York Conference

A team of Chargers excelled at a recent National Model United Nations New York, capturing the top team award and a setting a new program record for Outstanding Position Paper Awards.

May 20, 2024

By Aferdita Emini ’26, Alondra Nieves-Orama ’27, and Emily Konopka ’25

Dr. Chris Haynes (right) with students at the conference.
Dr. Chris Haynes (right) with students at the conference.

The University’s award-winning Model United Nations program set a new record at the recent National Model United Nations conference in New York. The University’s Monaco and Portugal teams both received Outstanding Delegation awards, the top team award. Chargers also captured a program record nine Outstanding Position Paper Awards and two Outstanding Delegate Awards. This is the 16th straight semester that the program has won at least one Outstanding Delegation award.

Directed by Chris Haynes, Ph.D., a political science, international affairs, and national security professor, the program is generously supported by Phil Bartels ’11 Hon. and Susan Bartels, two of the University’s most generous benefactors.

Below, three Chargers reflect on the rewarding experience and their participation in a “life-changing” program.

Aferdita Emini ’26

I have been a part of the Model United Nations program for two full years now. In that time, I have been a regular delegate for two semesters, and a head delegate for the past year. As I reflect on this journey, I can say that it has a big impact on me as a student and person. I was really quiet and shy, never one to put myself out there. This class changed that, and it helped me develop better communication skills that I can use in the real world.

Something that makes this class different is in contrast to other classes, this course is more interactive and collaborative. It takes a team to run it. Both returning students and head delegates constantly contribute to teaching the course material and helping to edit papers. I have returned to this program multiple times because it has become a part of me. You constantly reflect on how you have grown as a person and, because of that, I feel as though it is the perfect way to reciprocate the opportunities it has provided me.

Our recent conference in New York was a major success. We had the opportunity to meet with alumni, take a UN tour, and visit our delegations' missions. At the end of the conference, we won the Outstanding Delegation award for our team. However, the most important thing we left with was the bond we developed.

Aferdita Emini ’26 at the conference.
Aferdita Emini ’26 at the conference.

This program has shown me that leadership is not about being the loudest voice in the room, but about having strong beliefs and the ability to motivate others. Participating in Model UN has pushed me to leave my comfort zone, confront my own biases, and appreciate the viewpoints of my peers. Most importantly, I have built long-lasting friendships.

I want to thank Dr. Haynes and Joseph Scollo, for advising and helping me develop into the person I am today.

I also want to thank Phil and Susan Bartels, Carolyn Brehm, and Ambassador Richard Boucher. The consistent support they have given to this program has been immense, and, for that, I would like to recognize them.

Alondra Nieves-Orama ’27

After immersing myself in the University of New Haven’s Model United Nations program for a semester, my ambitions were challenged in a way that significantly bolstered my own personal and professional growth.

As a political science major, with a concentration in international relations, I took this course expecting it to solely influence my academic pursuits. It indeed aligned perfectly with my major, as I learned how to research properly, with assistance from adviser Joseph Scollo, and better refine my writing to a professional standard. Although I grew within these sectors, I hadn’t anticipated how I would grow beyond it.

The University’s Model United Nations team charged to victory at the NMUN conference.
The University’s Model United Nations team charged to victory at the NMUN conference.

As a first-year student, I had never been particularly shy, however I lacked confidence in my own abilities. Receiving guidance from Dr. Chris Haynes, Joseph Scollo, the Board of Directors, and head delegates, I discovered this course fostered an extremely collaborative environment, with every member of our team being a pivotal component. Although I remained hesitant during class despite ample preparation, I found myself being overwhelmed with support upon reaching the conference in New York, which allowed me to push myself and succeed.

During committee sessions, I felt empowered to voice my opinions and actively engage with my peers in a manner that was effective and inclusive of others. The most rewarding aspect of the experience was seeing how the leadership skills I had honed allowed me to forge meaningful connections and cultivate a positive working environment. Furthermore, the trip itself emphasized student independence and education, offering us the very special opportunity to interact with diplomats from our respective countries that we modeled in the simulation, as well as attend a tour of the United Nations building.

Looking ahead, I will be building upon this experience by returning for NMUN DC, in order to push myself even further and to refine the skills I acquired at my first conference.

Emily Konopka ’25

I became involved with the Model United Nations program in Fall of 2022 as a sophomore. Now, I have completed four semesters – three being a delegate, and two being a head delegate. I joined the program because I was looking for a way to get involved. I was very shy, and I wasn’t keen on talking to and meeting new people. I am happy to say that Model UN has changed my life in ways that I didn’t even think were possible.

At the beginning of my time in the program, I found it very difficult to fully immerse myself into the culture and the class as a whole. However, it was the returning delegates that made all the difference. They were my biggest cheerleaders until I learned how to be my own, and I am forever grateful for that.

This program teaches personal and professional development. It teaches communication, networking, interpersonal skills, leadership, writing and researching, negotiating, and debating, problem solving, critical thinking, and conflict resolution. It also serves as a community. There are people I have met through MUN conferences that I am in contact with to this day and some of my closest friends are fellow Chargers I met through the program.

Emily Konopka ’25.
Emily Konopka ’25.

One of the many things I love about MUN is its diversity, especially at conferences. I have never been in an environment where there is such a diverse population of students. There are people from different schools, states, and countries who come from different backgrounds and cultures. To see all of these students come together for the same purpose is such a beautiful thing to experience.

It’s reasons like these why I decided to be a head delegate twice. Nothing is more rewarding than working with students all semester and seeing all of their hard work pay off during a conference. It has been a pleasure to watch how students grow and develop into mature, intelligent, and ambitious people, even after just one semester of MUN.

I would like to thank our donors, Phil and Susan Bartels, Carolyn Brehm, and Ambassador Richard Boucher, for all of their support and dedication to this program. We would not have been able to achieve the amazing things we have if it wasn’t for your consistent encouragement.

I would also like to thank Professor Chris Haynes and Joe Scollo for their unequivocal commitment to this program. It would not be what it is without each of you, and your hard work does not go unnoticed.

I would like to end by saying that I am the person I am today because of this program. It has provided me with an opportunity to enhance my professionalism, as well as transform from a shy, quiet girl who was scared to talk to people to a confident, ambitious, and extroverted young woman. Because of this, I am forever indebted to the University’s MUN program.

Aferdita Emini ’26 is an English major at the University of New Haven. Alondra Nieves-Orama ’27 is a political science major. Emily Konopka ’25 is a criminal justice major.