UVU Students Make a Big Impact at the United Nations

UVU Students Make a Big Impact at the United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945 after World War II. Its mission is to maintain international peace and security, promote social progress, and protect human rights. Every year since 2017, UVU College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) sends a student delegation comprised of members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), to a session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN Headquarters in New York City. This year they hosted a parallel and a side event during the 67th session of CSW from March 6-10, 2023. The delegation comprised twenty-eight students and two faculty advisors, Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev and Dr. Hong Pang.

The students came from diverse academic backgrounds, including International Relations, Political Science, Global Politics, and Environmental Studies, and have worked tirelessly to prepare their presentations for this event. The students presented research on various topics related to sustainable mountain development and the promotion of the state of Utah as one of the models for it, which is the focus of UIMF. All of the students presented their research during a parallel event on Monday, March 6th, 2023. Alitha Thompson, President of the UIMF, a non-traditional student and mother of five kids, moderated a panel at a side event hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023 The panel was comprised from Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, Ambassador Aida Kasymalieva, Permanent Representative of Andorra to the UN, Ambassador Eisenda Vives Balmana and Deputy Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN, Mr. Jochen Hans-Joachim Almoslechner in addition to officials from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) and United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Dr. Rusty Butler, the UVU focal point at the FAO-UN (2006-2016), Tristin Juarez-Smith, President of the UVU Rotaract and two other students presented their research at a side event as well. Each of the presentations was well-received by the audience, which included representatives from various UN agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions. “We are so proud of these students and all that they have accomplished,” stated Dr. Janet Colvin, Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UVU.

In addition to presenting their research, the UVU student delegation had the opportunity to participate in several other experience-enriching activities. On Wednesday, March 6th, the UVU student delegation received a tour of the UN building, including the General Assembly chamber. They also observed a meeting of the UN Security Council in progress, which was a unique and eye-opening experience. These students were able to see firsthand how the UN operates and how decisions are made at the highest level – engaged learning at its best.

The students had another unique opportunity to meet with high-level officials at the UN. The students met with the President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, in his office. “This was an incredible opportunity for the students to ask questions and hear from one of the most influential people at the UN,” stated Dr. Jay DeSart, department chair of history and political science. They also met with Ambassador Richard Mills, the Deputy Representative of the U.S. to the United Nations, inside the U.S. Embassy to the UN. This meeting was arranged by one of UVU's alums, Ngoyi Ngoyi, who now works as a Political Officer at the U.S. Mission in New York. Ngoyi happened to be walking by when the UVU delegation was outside the UN, recognized the faculty advisors, and offered to arrange a meeting with Ambassador Mills. This was an unexpected and unforgettable experience for the students, who were able to ask questions and learn more about the U.S.'s role at the UN.

Overall, the UVU delegation made a big impact at the UN. They presented their research, learned about the inner workings of the UN, and met with high-level officials. This experience will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on their academic and professional careers. UVU's commitment to providing these kinds of engaged learning opportunities for students is what sets the university apart as a leader in global education. These students will forge the future, and providing them with these opportunities enhances their learning and future endeavors.

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