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Queens University Charlotte Students Take On A New Challenge At The International Model NATO Conference

Dr. Maggie M. Commins, the Shelton Professor of Political Science at Queens University, has led students to Washington, D.C., to engage in immersive diplomatic simulations for over ten years. This year, they tackled a new challenge: the International Model NATO conference, hosted by Howard University.

Under the guidance of Commins and Dmitry Vovchuk, an adjunct professor and foreign policy expert at Queens, 14 students from the Topics in Model United Nations course represented Estonia and Montenegro. The conference, now in its 39th year, draws students globally to simulate proceedings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, addressing global issues like military threats and political instability.

“Representing Queens as Estonia’s head delegate was an enriching experience,” said Natalia Hidalgo ’24, a political science and philosophy major. “As I learned more about Estonia’s values, I realized that while it is essential to defend a country’s integrity, one must also be respectful and conscientious of different ethical values and viewpoints. The biggest lesson? The road to consensus is difficult to traverse, yet possible.”

The students prepared through rigorous committee work, strategic meetings with State Department officials, and visits to embassies. Notable activities included an alumni dinner in D.C. and tours of Capitol Hill offices led by Queens alumni working in legislative roles.

James Biggins ‘25, a U.S. Army reservist and political science student, emerged as a vice chair of the military committee. He, along with two peers, received Outstanding Delegate Awards for their performance.

“This experience is just one example of how Queens fosters an environment that encourages unique, global learning experiences,” Hidalgo added, who also won the Superior Delegate Award. “During my time at Queens, I’ve used critical thinking, teamwork, and public speaking skills to cultivate humility, open-mindedness, and global awareness.”

The visit was particularly impactful for Jasnoor Mundi ’26, who said, “Being back as an adult, especially one who is passionate about politics and government, was an eye-opening experience for me. I’ve dreamed of becoming a lawyer for a very long time now, but making visits to embassies, government buildings, and offices showed me that there are so many more jobs available in government, and I truly believe that no matter what you think your career path is, exploring other opportunities is never a bad idea!”

Following their success at the NATO simulation, nine Queens students continued their diplomatic endeavors at the regional Model Arab League in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where three more students earned Outstanding Delegate Awards.

Amina Begic ’24, another political science major who participated, praised Dr. Commins’ leadership, saying, “This is my second international simulation with Dr. Commins, and her brilliant leadership makes these experiences what they are: insightful and unforgettable!”

Dr. Commins is already planning for the next International Model NATO and Model Arab League events, aiming to expand these transformative learning opportunities for more students in the future.

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