Model UN team honored at national conference

The College of Idaho’s Model United Nations team continued its streak of award-winning performances over Spring Break, earning Distinguished Delegation honors at the National Model United Nations conference in New York City. The Distinguished Delegation award is the second-highest honor a team can earn at NMUN—and it is an extraordinary achievement for the C of I’s six-student delegation, which stood out amongst more than 3,000 students representing 200 colleges and 140 countries.  

This marks the 10th consecutive NMUN conference at which C of I students have been honored, including five Distinguished Delegation awards.

“It really is a remarkable achievement for our students,” said Professor Rob Dayley, C of I’s faculty advisor for Model UN. “I’m confident that no college our size can boast such a record at NMUN.”

The C of I team, led by senior Head Delegate Alex Thomas, represented the island state of Mauritius during NMUN. Thomas was selected by conference staff as Rapporteur for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In this capacity, he was one of three committee leaders to administer the work of 200 delegates who drafted resolutions on safeguarding nuclear technologies. Thomas also wrote the IAEA final report to the General Assembly.

Senior delegate Lila Klopfenstein made history, becoming the first C of I delegate to be recognized with the Outstanding Position Paper award—one of the few individual awards up for grabs at the conference. Klopfenstein represented the Yotes on the General Assembly 2nd Committee, covering the topic of financing development.

“Model UN has pushed me emotionally, academically and socially in ways that I never expected,” Klopfenstein said. “This award is humbling because it allows me to contribute to a history of excellent Model UN students and reflect the quality of preparation that Professor Dayley gives us. As I move forward in a career that hopefully leads to diplomacy, I will certainly look back at this experience as formative in developing my career path.”

In addition to Klopfenstein’s award-winning work, C of I junior Lorena Rincon Rebon sponsored resolutions on disaster response in the GA 3rd Committee; seniors Edmund Ellis and Eulalia Gallegos-Buitron worked in separate committees covering crime prevention and sustainable development strategies; and freshman Marine Vieille helped implement the Paris Climate Agreement in UN Environment Assembly. 

Following closing ceremonies, the Yotes celebrated their accomplishments at the Manhattan Indian restaurant Utsav, a Sanskrit word meaning “to celebrate a joyous occasion.” Joining them were Dayley, C of I VP of College Relations Michael Vandervelden, and New York City alumni Akshay Kulkarni ’05, Holly Stubbs ’05, and Dmitri Silva ’05. 

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit