Tanner Hirschfeld receives Collegiate’s first Model UN Conference award in years

Great success came to senior Tanner Hirschfeld ’16 who received honorable recognition during the 29th Annual William & Mary High School Model UN Conference on Nov. 20-22.

The Model United Nations (UN) conference, commonly known as Model UN, is an academic competition in which students expand their knowledge of diplomacy international relations and the United Nations.

Tanner who has participated in Model UN since the ninth grade, has a strong affinity for debate, public speaking and international relations.

“Model UN has enhanced my public speaking ability to no end,” Tanner said. “I cannot express just how much better it has made me at this key talent. It has also increased my knowledge of international relations and taught me how to speak persuasively and dominate a room.”

It was during his second competition when he received his first verbal commendation, an award presented to participants who examine verbal strength and knowledge of the subject. Tanner and Emma Stell ’14 partnered on the General Committee during the 2012-13 Model UN Conference at Old Dominion University (ODU), were one out of five partnerships to earn the award.

“Emma took on most of the work load, but we both had the opportunity to speak,” Tanner said. “It turned out I was a little more comfortable with speaking in front of new people than I thought I was.”

In a single-delegate General Committee 80 to 120 students can participate, which makes it the largest Model UN committee.

“A verbal commendation is awarded to delegates whose performance ranks six through eight. Emma and I were one of the five students at ODU who placed,” said Tanner.

At this year’s competition at The College of William & Mary, Tanner partnered with Hannah Garcia ’17 for the triumphant recognition.

The conference hosted more than 900 students from more than 40 schools throughout the country. 

Students participated in committee meetings that followed UN parliamentary procedures and represented various countries, historical figures and companies.

“The William & Mary conference is a major event for schools on the East Coast—some teams travel from as far away as Florida and New York to participate,” said Jared Wilson, club advisor. “This year’s conference was tough as usual. Each committee debates three general current event topics related to a specific field, such as the international drug trade.”

The goal of the conference is to write resolutions to fix problems around the world.

Hannah and Tanner served as delegates in the Fortune 500 committee. She represented Plains GP Holding and he represented Phillips 66, which are known as energy giants. 

“Before the conference, we researched all aspects of our respective companies, with a focus on the assigned committee topic of corporate social responsibility,” said Tanner. “We looked into our companies’ current projects and developments, as well as past projects and the focus of their philanthropy.

Each delegate is required to write a position paper on the topic of which his or her committee focused.

“Students prepare by doing research on their assigned country and committee topics, trying to understand both the culture and the history of their topics as it specifically relates to their country. The goal is to get into the mindset of the nation they represent,” said Wilson. “They also prepare position papers which outline their nation’s views on the topics of debate and suggest possible remedies which the committee should debate.”

Tanner and Hannah combined their research to write their position papers.

He led a team of six delegates, including Hannah, and was successful at passing the first resolution paper about technology and energy conservation education. Their paper was ranked as the Greatest Margin out of three papers that passed.

Tanner received a verbal commendation for his efforts representing Philips 66 on the Fortune 500 committee. This was the first award Collegiate has received in many years from The College of William and Mary’s conference.  

“Needless to say, I was shocked to hear my name,” Tanner said. “I was in fact so shocked that I got up and almost approached the stage for a verbal award, even though I was just supposed to stand and be recognized.”

Tanner’s recognition marked the first for Collegiate in nearly seven years.

“He was the first recognition for performance we have received in many years at William & Mary, and hopefully the first of many as we rebuild the club and continue to become more competitive,” said Wilson.

Tanner recommends students to learn more about Model UN. “I would encourage anyone to everyone to participate in Model UN, because honestly it’s a blast,” said Tanner. “It’s extremely rewarding to see your resolution passed and even more so to be recognized. Former students told me it was impossible to win at William & Mary, but I was able to win our first, and I am honored to have represented our school in such a positive light.”

He offers a word of advice to future delegates.

“I would advise every delegate to prepare as much as possible for the conference and to practice his or her public speaking,” Tanner said. “Two of the four keys to winning are to speak well and know your stuff.”

He offers two other tips: get there early to network and always be diplomatic.

“I cannot wait to bring home a Best Delegate award at this year’s ODU Model UN Conference,” which is the highest conference award.

For more information about Model UN at Norfolk Collegiate, contact Jared Wilson at jwilson@norfolkcollegiate.org



Dec. 4, 2015