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Diplo School sparks grassroot ideas with worldwide contest

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="260"][/caption] Finalists in the School of Diplomacy and International Relations United Nations Sustainable Development Challenge presented their ideas to Seton Hall faculty, U.N. representatives and current students on April 22 in the Walsh Library Beck Rooms. “The purpose of this competition was to crowdsource ideas about how each of us can support the U.N.’s new Sustainable Development Goals,” according to Martin Edwards, director of the Center for United Nations and Governance Studies at the diplomacy school. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the U.N. in September 2015. There are 17 in total, and they focus on a variety of topics, like clean water, education, hunger, and gender equality. More than 300 high school students submitted entries for the contest. A statement of less than 500 words focusing on any singular or combination of Sustainable Goals was required in order to participate. The competition took place from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Participants who could not come to New Jersey for the event competed via Skype. One of the finalists was a high school senior, Joseph Montesano, while the remaining finalists were high school juniors or sophomores. 132 of these entries were from international students, according to Edwards. “The finalists and the winners were chosen by a panel of diplomacy faculty members affiliated with the Center for U.N. and Global Governance Studies,” Edwards said. Since the Sustainable Development Goals were passed in 2015, this is the first year this competition was held. The first place winner was junior Adriana Mancini from Palm City, Florida. She focused on Sustainable Development Goal 6: “Clean Water and Sanitation.” Mancini proposed a student-run campaign, named Students4H2O, to raise awareness of the global water crisis. Her presentation elaborated that as clean water becomes more accessible, girls could spend more time on their education instead of finding fresh water sources. Second place winner, high school junior Crystal Coriano from San Diego, focused on Goal 4: “Quality Education.” Coriano proposed the non-profit “Action Changes Things” to expand educational opportunities for women. Some events the organization would sponsor would be book drives and online opportunities. Some programs would focus on educating women about sexual health and reproduction, while others would focus on providing basic educational opportunities to women. Mancini won a $2,500 cash prize to further her proposal, in addition to a $10,000 Seton Hall scholarship. Coriano won $1,000 in cash and a $6,000 SHU scholarship. All of the other 10 finalists also received a $4,000 Seton Hall Scholarship. Megan O’Malley can be reached at


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