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NMSU students place second in Model U.N. competition

New Mexico State University's Model United Nations team was named "Distinguished Delegation" at the National Model United Nations competition held in New York City recently. The award is the second highest possible.

New Mexico State University's Model United Nations team, pictured above in New York, received the "Distinguished Delegation" and "Outstanding Position Papers" awards at a national competition recently. (Photo courtesy of Jason Ackleson)

This is the second time in two years that NMSU's Model U.N. team has earned this honor.

"I like to call it a 'silver medal in diplomacy.' We ranked in the top 10 percent of the 270 universities that participated," said adviser Jason Ackleson, assistant professor of government and associate dean of the Honors College.

In addition to their second place overall award, the students, who represented Spain, were recognized for "Outstanding Position Papers." According to team president Marcia Mundt, of Los Alamos, N.M., this honor is akin to "a first place recognition of expertise in the subjects each student studied for the event."

Team members Jorge Arroyo and Orlando Arellano, both of Las Cruces, were chosen by their peers as outstanding delegates in their committees.

The National Model United Nations competition in New York is the largest university-level simulation of the United Nations, according to the NMUN Web site. Although the competition is "national," students from universities around the world attend and compete; in fact, nearly half of this year's participants came from other countries.

"It's like the Super Bowl of Model U.N.," Ackleson said.

Ackleson said that the attendance of teams from different countries around the world caused the competition to more closely parallel the actual United Nations.

NMSU's 15 team members were competitively selected early in the academic year. The team has been preparing for competition since August and members took a class during the spring semester to help them get ready.

"It has been a joy working with this group and watching them develop their leadership, public speaking, research, writing and negotiation skills," Mundt said.

"The program is really building momentum. I'm very impressed with both the caliber of the students and their hard work. Students and faculty from other universities complimented the students, and we're becoming known as an excellent program," Ackleson said.

The Model U.N. team's achievements have not gone unnoticed. Last month, the team was recognized by the New Mexico Senate in a short ceremony acknowledging its many achievements.

A new Model United Nations team will be selected next August. Students from all majors, undergraduate and graduate, are welcome to try out. For more information, e-mail Ackleson at jackleso@nmsu.edu.