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Yotes’ Model UN Team Receives Highest Honor in NYC

May 1, 2024
2024 Model UN

The College of Idaho’s Model United Nations team started the month of April with a bang by earning Outstanding Delegation recognition at the Model UN conference in New York City from April 1-5.

It marked just the third time (2009, 2019) the College earned the top level of recognition.

“We compete head-to-head with some of the largest and well-funded Model UN programs in the world. They come from five continents each spring to New York for this singular conference. All of them are aiming for an Outstanding Delegation award, but only a few will be honored by the time the week ends,” said Rob Dayley, professor of political economy as well as the College’s Model UN supervisor. “That we can win the top award alongside such programs is remarkable. An Outstanding Delegation Award means our whole delegation performed well, across the board. It’s extremely difficult to achieve. We often earn a ‘Distinguished Delegation’ award, like a silver medal, which is impressive enough. Most colleges and universities return home without any award. To win an ‘Outstanding’ award is equivalent to a gold medal in the Model UN world.”

Each entry to the conference is assigned a country. The team researches that country and then acts as the country would at the conference. The College was assigned Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern coast of India, for this year’s conference.

“There are committees (at Model UN) where you are able to find a common ground more easily. For example, Sri Lanka is really big on how biodiversity matters so, for me, that was easy,” said Lorena Mazariegos, a senior double-majoring in international political economy and business as well as the College’s head delegate at the conference. “But then we had someone working with LGBTQ rights, which Sri Lanka is not good about, so it becomes challenging. You have to stick to the country’s position.”

Mazariegos and her team’s ability to stay in character, as she referred to it, helped the College earn the Outstanding Delegation award.

“It’s a huge deal because there are just a few delegations that get ‘Outstanding Delegation’ each time,” Mazariegos said. “The experience, as a whole, was so fun. Each year I get something different out of it.”

For Mazariegos, it was her fourth trip to a Model UN conference. She’s been to New York twice and also Washington, D.C., in 2021 and Japan in 2022. The 2021 event was led by alum Courtney Indart ‘15 as the conference’s Secretary General. One of Mazariegos’ fellow delegates on that trip was Josh Andersen ’22, who recently served as a staff member for a Model UN conference. Kaytlyn Marcotte ’19 has also gone on to work on the staff of a conference. The College’s history with the Model UN dates back to legendary College of Idaho faculty member George Wolfe more than 60 years ago.

“You simply can’t be passive and expect to achieve something. Our students understand that,” Dayley said. “Model UN rewards preparation, initiative, leadership, and taking some social risks. It is really the quintessential high-impact practice.”

Along with Mazariegos, the award-winning delegation consisted of:

  • Fernando Barrios
  • Gauge Thaemert
  • Joseph Howell
  • Matt Cantwell
  • Melanie Dawson
  • Luke Osterhout
  • Aayush Shrestha
  • Chloe Sunthornsanit
  • Zaynab El Hakour
  • Tigran Abrahamyan
  • Kelvin Sakyi

For more information about the College’s involvement in the Model United Nations conferences and how to participate, contact Rob Dayley.

The College of Idaho has a 133-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, 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