The Seton Hall United Nations Association (SHUNA) debates topics that address global issues, both historical and current, in a very similar fashion to actual United Nations committees.
According to club members, SHUNA involves thorough research, intense collaboration and critical thinking skills executed through public speaking, writing and debating. The team competes with students from different universities in order to mimic the roles of international delegates themselves. In doing so, the students cultivate their knowledge of diplomacy and international relations.
According to Kyla Stewart, a junior diplomacy major, SHUNA’s mission is to “impart knowledge of the United Nations’ actions onto our members, as well engender self-development of our members.”
Their hard work and determination from training committees and weekly meetings was evident as Seton Hall’s team won more than 11 awards from their most recent conference at the Pennsylvania State Model UN Conference (PUNC XI) from March 15 to 18. They won eight individual awards, two verbal commendations and, overall, the Best Large Delegation Award.
SHUNA has also performed in other conferences. Victoria Blakey-Padilla, a senior chemistry major, said her favorite moment as a club member was receiving the Best Delegation Award at the Cornell University Collegiate Model UN Conference this past fall.
“We swept awards in almost all committees, and I’ve never been so proud of all the delegates that went with me,” Blakey-Padilla said.
Axel Sontgerath, a sophomore diplomacy major, said that the club’s versatility is useful not only in the art of diplomacy, but also in real-world application.
“It puts you in situations where you need to defend yourself or advocate for something,” Sontgerath said. “It’s good for working with people who have different opinions than you. You learn how to work with them or how to work around conflicts.”
Aside from the shared interest in debate and international issues, members highlighted the close camaraderie and family-like atmosphere of the club.
“It’s a great bonding experience because you work together so much and get to know each other really well,” Sontgerath said.
SHUNA is not limited specifically to diplomacy majors. Blakey-Padilla has been a part of the club for three years and served as the outgoing president.
“I love it because speaking and enhancing my knowledge of current and historical events is something I can’t necessarily do within the field of chemistry,” Padilla said.
The club usually holds weekly meetings on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in Arts and Sciences, Room 107, as well as training committee sessions on Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m. in Jubilee Hall, Room 139.
Kristel Domingo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.