The College of William and Mary High School Model United Nations Conference is a tradition more than a generation old.
For 31 years, high school students from around the country have performed the roles of world leaders and diplomats, tackling issues in step with the real United Nations, or ones lifted from the history books. They have debated and collaborated and think-tanked on issues like climate change, civil rights, disarmament, and peacekeeping. This year, more than two thousand students from over sixty schools participated, more than double their numbers from only seven years ago.
While the conference is not, strictly speaking, a competition, judges do score participants based on diplomacy, debate, and attention to detail, and award delegates and committees during their closing ceremonies each year.
This year, Susanna Maize, a senior from Jamestown High School in Jamestown, Virginia, was awarded Best Delegate. Maize has been attending Model U.N. events around the country since she was in the eighth grade, encouraged by her civics teacher at the time.
“Since then, I’ve just fallen in love with it,” Maize said to the Virginia Gazette.
Maize especially values the way that Model U.N. sticks her in the path of world news. While her team’s issue this year was a 1983 political restructuring in Argentina, for her, it emphasized the all-too-real danger of repeating history out of ignorance. It also has taught her about cooperation and managing her public presence, both of which are skills that will carry her far in any career she chooses.
As for what that career might be, Maize isn’t ready to decide yet. She wants to study international politics in college, and to move her involvement in advocacy from the theoretical to the real, but doesn’t yet have a long-term plan. But wherever she goes, this bright senior is sure to be a step ahead of most of the voting public.