the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Upper Saddle River NJ, the Academy of the Holy Angels Model United Nations team is thriving in the realm of virtual competitions. Most recently, AHA sophomore Elise Tao earned Best Delegate (first place) honors at the Yale MUN Conference for her work as a member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization committee. Over 2,000 delegates from 200 schools around the globe participated in the four-day Yale event. Tao placed first out of more than 30 delegates in her committee.
The Upper Saddle River resident also received a Verbal Commendation at the Columbia University MUN, where she was part of Agents for HYDRA, a crisis committee.
AHA Model UN member Caroline Dupas, a multi-time Model UN gavel winner for first place finishes, earned Honorable Mentions at the recent Yale and Columbia events.
“All of the delegates work so hard preparing for and participating in the conferences and Elise is no exception,” AHA Model UN Adviser Jennifer Cucchisi said. “Elise is a true example of growth mindset, which we focus on so strongly here at AHA. She wrote to me and sat down with me after Columbia Model UN and asked what she could do differently for the next conference and we went over strategies.
“I told her that Yale would be her conference, and she proved me right. Again and again, when I popped into her committee room to see how things were going, Elise was leading the conversation, so her award of Best Delegate was truly well deserved!”
Event leaders said Tao was a collaborative bloc leader during unmoderated caucuses, and gave strong, compelling speeches during moderated caucuses.
While COVID-safe virtual conferences have been a challenge for some delegations, AHA’s team is leveraging these events to their best advantage, Cucchisi reported. Virtual meets, which do not require extensive travel, allow AHA to participate in more conferences, and the additional experience is yielding excellent results, including Tao’s latest successes.
“I was always an avid debater and conversationalist, and always had an interest in governmental bodies and history,” Tao noted, adding that joining Model UN was the obvious choice for her. She explained that being a delegate allows her to expand her knowledge of world issues as she develops her critical thinking and resolution analysis skills.
Tao said Model UN can seem daunting at first, but it soon becomes an enjoyable experience. She particularly enjoys collaborating with passionate delegates from diverse backgrounds to resolve real-life issues.
When presented with her options, Tao enjoys representing countries with unique organizations. She enjoys participating in General Assemblies and Specialized Bodies.
Tao and her teammates are required to write a position paper before every conference.
“I deep-dive into research on each prospective topic that is given in the committee background guide in order to prepare,” Tao shared. “Moreover, I practice public speaking drills in order to sufficiently vocalize my thoughts during the conference. The priority in preparing for Model UN is the conviction that you can confidently speak about the topic in regard to any subject.”
She added, “Model UN has brought me closer to a community that values the social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political issues that are mutual experiences and realities all across the world. I proudly represent the Holy Angels MUN team wherever I go. The Angel delegates and Mrs. Cucchisi have supported me since the first day I joined, and I owe my gratitude to them.”
Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many backgrounds.
315 HILLSIDE AVENUE, DEMAREST, NJ 07627
201.768.7822 | HOLYANGELS.ORG