All posts by Douglas Rivero

Model UN Team Named Distinguished Delegation at Conference

model un distinguished delegation award

St. Petersburg College’s Model UN team continued its strong legacy of team success at last week’s virtual Model UN conference hosted by National Model United Nations (NMUN). Indeed, the team captured the prestigious Distinguished Delegation award. This award places us in the top 10 percent of all the colleges and universities that competed at the conference.

Additionally, Angela Li, one of the head delegates for our team, was honored with the Outstanding Delegate award for her work in her committee (UNECE). Altogether, our students represented Croatia, Germany and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Important Topics; Important Skills

Given the determination and resilience that it takes to get one mentally prepared and motivated to compete at an academic simulation that takes place virtually (no travel perks), we are immensely proud of our students. This enriching learning experience strengthened a variety of important skills for our students, which include public speaking, research, writing, negotiating, consensus building and diplomacy. In fact, as recently discussed by several MUN faculty members and others in the Social & Behavioral Sciences, the growth and development that we have seen in our MUN students during the last few months has been incredible. Some of the topics that our students debated at the conference include:

  • Climate Change & Health
  • Sustainable Development
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • The Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Establishment of a Nuclear Free Zone in the Middle East
  • The Illicit Trade of Small Arms
  • The Situation in Yemen
  • The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age
  • Combating Racism and Xenophobia

Despite the challenges of motivating our students and competing at Model UN conferences virtually, SPC’s Model UN team had an outstanding 2020-2021 academic year. During the Fall 2020 semester, our students also won the Distinguished Delegation award at the NMUN DC virtual conference and Outstanding Delegation at SRMUN Charlotte virtual conference.

A Successful Decade

Finally, it is important to note that this concludes the tenth year of Model United Nations at SPC. As the record shows, through the dedication of our students, especially veteran leaders, faculty members and our inspiring Dean, the honorable Dr. Joseph Smiley, SPC’s Model UN team has become a formidable force at MUN conferences. For instance, while there is only a 20 percent chance that a college delegation captures a team delegation at a conference, our Model UN team has won a team delegation award at 84 percent of the conferences attended. Even more, SPC’s Model UN team is on an eight-year winning streak as it has won either Outstanding, Distinguished or Honorable Mention at all NMUN conferences since 2013 and has received either the Outstanding or the Distinguished Delegation award at all NMUN conferences since 2015.

At the end of the day, six years of placing in the top 10 percent nationally is an incredible feat, especially when one considers that our students are competing against juniors and seniors from top universities across the country and the world. Therefore, a special thanks to our students and faculty, as well as Dean Smiley and SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams for continuing to support and strengthen this amazing program.

Recognition and Thanks

Team members (and respective committees) for the Spring 2021 Model UN Team: 

Nile Jordan Nickel (SC) (Head Delegate)
Delaney Redmond (NPT)
Jacey Cannon (GA2)
Angela Li (UNECE) (Head Delegate)
Alyvia Hallock (GA3)
Alexandra Lanni (UNEA)
Jakob Wiley (GA1)
Isabel Fraley (GA3)
Ashley De Oliveira (UNHCR)
Chloe Bethune (UNEA)
Christine Yu (UNHCR)
Stephanie Duarte (HRC)
Mikayla Stott (HRC)
Felix Nickel (WHO)

Veteran Evan Fergenbaum also provided special assistance throughout the training/preparation phase. We appreciate it!

Faculty Members who support/train MUN students are:

Dr. Douglas Rivero
Dr. Randy Lightfoot
Dr. Roberto Loureiro
Dr. Gyldas Ofoulhast-Othamot
Dr. Bledar Prifti
Dr. William Fleming

Model UN Team Takes Second Victory in Back-to-Back Weeks


St. Petersburg College
’s Model UN team traveled to Washington, DC from November 7 to November 11 to compete at the 2019 National Model UN DC conference. The team won the Outstanding Delegation award, which is the highest team award at the conference. To receive this award, a team must place in the top 3 percent. This victory comes on the heels of the team’s victory last week at the WIMUN conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

As you can imagine, MUN Faculty are beyond proud of these students. The team traveled with Dr. Randy Lightfoot, Professor of American Government at Tarpon Springs, and Dr. William Fleming, Professor of Economics at St. Pete Gibbs.

SPC’s Carson Gordon working on a Draft Resolution at NMUN DC

The team represented the Lebanese Republic and was led by Head Delegates Ashley Rutenbeck and Catherine Tomczyk. The competition involved simulating several agencies, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) as well as several UN organs (First and Fourth Committee of the General Assembly). Carson Gordon and Isabel Arnez participated in the FAO committee. This committee dealt with topics ranging from climate change’s impact on food security to capacity building for low-income food deficit countries. Mikayla Stott and Ashley Rutenbeck represented Lebanon in the UNHCR committee. As the UN’s major agency in dealing with refugees around the world, Mikayla and Ashley worked to find long-term answers to the economic displacement of refugees. Catherine Tomcyzk and Canyon Dike were involved in the UNEA committee. This committee was responsible with finding solutions to marine plastic pollution and illegal whaling. Nassim Bentarka and Evan Fergenbaum were in GA 4 and this committee dealt with the controversial topic of Israeli political settlements in Palestinian territory. Finally, Frank Yurek and Nile Nickel Jordan represented Lebanon in GA 1 and they wrestled nuclear proliferation, one of the most important international issues today.

SPC’s MUN team visits the Office of US Rep. Gus Bilirakis

The students also had the opportunity to engage in a variety of educational excursions. They visited the office of Congressman Gus Bilirakis, several museums in DC and had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Embassy of Lebanon. Mr. Kamal Yakteen, who leads the staff at the embassy, provided a wide array of educational resources to our students. These included Lebanon’s stance on UN sustainable goals, land border regiments, refugees, WMD’s, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and much more. Finally, the students had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Ambassador Gabriel Issa, who is Lebanon’s US ambassador. Interestingly enough, Ambassador Issa previously lived in the state of Michigan and owned several businesses in the area.

SPC’s MUN team visit the Embassy of Lebanon
Front (Left to Right): Carson Gordon, Ashley Rutenbeck, Catherine Tomczyk, Isabel Arnez
Middle: Nile Nickel Jordan & Canyon Dike
Back: Frank Yurek, Evan Fergenbaum, Mikayla Stott, Nassim Bentarka

Ultimately, this MUN trip was another amazing educational experience for our students. They were able to continue to develop their writing, diplomacy and public speaking skills and participate in a variety of unique educational excursions. MUN Faculty members Kim Jackson, Randy Lightfoot, Bledar Prifti, Roberto Loureiro, William Fleming, Gyldas Othamot and myself, Douglas Rivero, remain extremely honored and proud of the students’ hard work and continued victories. We look forward to working with MUN students next semester. On to New York!

SPC’s Model UN brings home awards

model un

St. Petersburg College’s Model UN team traveled to Geneva, Switzerland from October 28 to November 3 to compete at the World Federation of United Nations Associations International Model United Nations (WIMUN) simulation. With about 80 percent of the delegates from outside the US, this is one of the most international conferences in the Model UN (MUN) universe. Overall, the team captured the Best Small Delegation award and four of the 12 individual awards at the conference.

Students Celebrating Best Small Delegation at WIMUN Geneva

What an outstanding effort by our students! The awards include one position paper award, which was awarded to Sofia Angelini; and three delegation awards attained by John Owens, Myleena Hurtado and Kerri Kendrick. In addition, Adam Johnson was one of 10 students (of the 400 total) who was chosen to deliver opening remarks at the Palais des Nations. The team traveled with me, Dr. Douglas Rivero, Chair of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Seminole/Lead MUN advisor and Dr. Kimberly Jackson, Chair of Social & Behavioral Sciences at the Downtown & Midtown campuses.

model un
Adam Johnson delivers speech at Palais de Nations.

The competition involved simulating several agencies, such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), and UN organs (Security Council and Second Committee of the General Assembly (GA2). MUN simulations involve students engaging in interactive discussions and writing draft resolutions on a variety of major global issues. In fact, the topics at this conference included the UN Security Council working on resolutions that pertained to the Situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), specifically the renewal of CAR Sanctions Regime in order to ensure the cessation of human rights violations in the area. Catherine Tomcyck and John Owens took part in this committee and represented the countries of the USA and the Ivory Coast.

Another important UN organ, GA 2, addressed the topic of Harmony with Nature. They worked on a variety of draft resolutions that dealt with how to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Sofia Angelini (Madagascar), Adam Johnson (France), Kerri Kendrick (Germany) and Cooper Hockstetler (Chile) participated in this committee.

The last committee was the International Labour Organization, and they dealt with the topic of Global Supply Chains. As such, they were tasked with working out how representatives from the national governments, employers and workers could come together to improve working conditions for workers in the less-developed world. Myleena Hurtado, Cierra Howard and Kingsley Hollon-Coleman represented the country of Mexico. As you can see, our students were intimately involved with analyzing critical matters dealing with human rights, environmental issues and social welfare.

The students also had the opportunity to visit the Palais des Nations, which is the seat of the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) and the initial home of the League of Nations. Faculty members and WIMUN staff arranged for a tour on October 30 that explained to students the history and diplomacy that occurs at UNOG. Students then had an opportunity to take pictures at the UN and purchase UN items from their bookstore. Some of the major agencies that are located at UNOG include the International Labour Organization, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Human Rights Council and the World Health Organization.

Lastly, the students were able to have some fun. For example, they played chess and checkers at the famous Promenade de Bastions in Geneva. In my view, this was a perfect way for them to work out their minds prior to conference! They also visited beautiful Lake Geneva, as well as some of the great restaurants and chocolate stores in Geneva. Overall, it was a very exciting experience for many of our students, especially because many of them had never been on a plane or traveled outside the country.

Overall, this was an amazing educational experience for our students. Not only were they immersed in a variety of educational excursions, but they also had the chance further develop their writing, diplomacy and public speaking skills. Amazingly, this continues the incredible winning streak of our MUN Team. Jessica Angelini, the parent of Sofia Angelini, recognized this.

“I’m amazed at how well the SPC Model UN Team has done, even at the international level,” Angelini said. “It truly reflects on the school’s support and faculty leadership. My older daughter participates in Model UN at her university in Maryland, and despite being a larger university, they simply do not have the results that SPC does.”

Besides the parents, MUN Faculty members Douglas Rivero, Kim Jackson, Randy Lightfoot, Bledar Prifti, Roberto Loureiro, William Fleming and Gyldas Othamot are extremely honored and proud of the students’ hard work and wins.

Model United Nations team earns top honor at national conference

SPCs Model United Nations team members post at the United Nations during the April 2019 National Model United Nations Conference in New York City.

SPC’s Model United Nations team received the Outstanding Delegation Award at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference held on April 13-18 in New York City.

The award is the highest honor that can be received by school delegations and is only attained by those who place in the top 3 percent. Students Adam Johnson/Sofia Angelini and Katelyn Trujillo/Shannon Margineau also received Outstanding Position Paper awards, which are awarded to students who place in the highest levels in their committees. The SPC delegation represented the Republic of Armenia.

College and university students from around the world attend NMUN conferences, where they work in committees to address regional and global issues and adopt resolutions that attempt to solve major problems. Schools are assigned a country to represent, and the delegates must remain in character as they discuss issues from the perspective of their assigned country. Overall, students spend many hours researching committee topics, along with their country’s history and position on the committee topics. They must also attend eight committee practice sessions. Students are guided by six political science faculty members from the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences.

Ultimately, our students do outstanding work at MUN conferences. We are extremely proud of them for their hard work and dedication. They are excellent ambassadors for the MUN Program and SPC!

Some committee topics addressed:

  • Transitioning to Sustainable Energy: Meeting Growing Energy Demands
  • Information and Communications Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Promoting Climate Resilience
  • The Role of Youth in Achieving the Paris Agreement
  • Capacity-Building for Combating Climate Change in Developing Countries
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change
  • Nuclear Disarmament and International Security
  • International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
  • External Debt Sustainability and Development
  • Facilitating Knowledge Transfer for Sustainable Development
  • Inclusive Development for Persons with Disabilities
  • Combating Human Trafficking
  • Mainstreaming Gender in Peacekeeping Operations

SPC MUN Students also had the opportunity to visit the UN and take pictures. In fact, they were able to get on the mic and make several motions in front of the entire UN body.

In addition, they met up with Michael Shewchuk of the Global Center for Human Change. Shewchuk is a lawyer for the UN who also serves as one of the lead volunteers for this non-profit. This was an excellent opportunity for our students to gain key insights from someone who works inside the UN.

SPC MUN also learned about the Global Center’s push to implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by opening up new ways of thinking to solve global problems. Our students were encouraged to remain actively involved with the Global Center’s efforts to recruit college students to become engaged in organization’s efforts to utilize the power and energy of youth to unleash a transformative new world order.

Professor Roy Slater and Dr. Roberto Loureiro traveled with the team. Additional MUN faculty members who assist students in preparing for conferences include Dr. Randy Lightfoot, Dr. William Fleming, Professor Kim Jackson and lead faculty advisor Dr. Douglas Rivero.

Visit the SPC Model United Nations Facebook page for pictures from NY and other MUN conferences.

Model United Nations Team Receives Prestigious Award in Atlanta, GA.

Model United Nations team receives award in Atlanta, GA.

St. Petersburg College’s Model United Nations team received the Distinguished Delegation Award at the Southern Regional Model United Nations (SRMUN) Conference held on November 15-17 in Atlanta, GA. Distinguished Delegation is the received by delegations that place in the top 10%. Cooper Hochstetler and Kingsley Coleman also received an Outstanding Delegation award. The SPC delegation represented the State of Qatar.

College and university students from around the Southeast country attend SRMUN conferences. At conference, students work in committees to address regional and global issues and adopt resolutions that detail solutions to issues. Schools are assigned country to represent and the delegates must remain in character as they discuss issues from perspective of assigned country. The SRMUN conference also included a special crisis committee simulation of the League of Arab States. Overall, students spend many hours researching history of assigned country, committee topics, and position of country on committee topics. All in all, MUN veterans Chris Stansel & Shemar McKoy led a team that included 8 brand new members. They did outstanding work and we are very proud of their leadership. We continue to be very proud of all MUN members for their strong efforts and dedication to improving their academic skills through out-of-classroom experiences.

Some committee topics addressed:

Addressing the Challenges to Accessing Vaccines
Increased Prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases in Developing Member States

Addressing the Role of Transnational Organized Crime Groups in Human Trafficking
Combating the Threat of Cyberterrorism

Migration and its Effects on Economic Development
Humanitarian Relief in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters

Expanding UN-Based Green Energy Infrastructure Programs in Developing Member States
Promoting Global Collaboration in Combating Rising Sea Levels due to Climate Change

 

Dr. Randy Lightfoot and Dr. William Fleming traveled with the team. Additional MUN faculty members who assist students in preparing for conferences include Dr. Douglas Rivero, Dr. Roberto Loureiro, Professor Kim Jackson and Professor Roy Slater.

Visit the SPC Model United Nations Facebook page for pictures from Atlanta conference and other MUN conferences.

Attached are some pictures of the students in action.

Model United Nations Team Wins Awards

Model United Nations

St. Petersburg College’s Model United Nations team received the Distinguished Delegation Award at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference held on November 9-11 in Washington, DC. Distinguished Delegation is received by delegations that place in the top 10 percent.

Model United NationsChris Kiyaseh and Joanna Wilkins also received an Outstanding Position Paper award, which is awarded to students who place in the top three percent of their committees. The SPC delegation represented the Republic of Rwanda.

College and university students from around the country attend NMUN conferences, where they work in committees to address regional and global issues and adopt resolutions that detail solutions to issues. Schools are assigned a country to represent, and the delegates must remain in character as they discuss issues from the perspective of their assigned country. Overall, students spend many hours researching committee topics, along with their country’s history and position on the committee topics. They must also attend committee practice sessions.

Our students do outstanding work at MUN conferences. We are extremely proud of them for their hard work and dedication. They are excellent ambassadors for the MUN Program and St. Petersburg College.

Some committee topics addressed:

Increasing the Role of Civil Society in Sustainable Development
Natural Disasters and Climate Change: Mitigating the Effects
Addressing the Use of Chemical Weapons
The Role of Emerging Technologies in International Security and Disarmament
Protecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Emergencies
Treatment and Prevention of HIV/AIDS
Mitigating the Impact of Environmental Health Risks
Expanding Protection for Victims of Gender-Based Violence
Protecting Migrants from the Threat of Human Trafficking
Economic Integration of Migrants

Students also had the opportunity to participate in a variety of educational excursions. The team received a tour of Congress by Congressman Bilirakis’ office and had the opportunity to visit the State Department. They discussed career opportunities and learned about Rwanda from a Foreign Service officer from the Bureau of African Affairs.

Model United NationsProfessor Kim Jackson traveled with the team and me. Additional MUN faculty members who assist students in preparing for conferences include Dr. Roberto Loureiro, Dr. Randy Lightfoot, Dr. William Fleming and Professor Roy Slater.

Visit the SPC Model United Nations Facebook page for pictures from DC and other MUN conferences.

Social & Behavioral Sciences Career Summit

The Social & Behavioral Sciences and Human Services Department will be hosting a Career Summit on Tuesday, October 9th from 530 to 830 PM. The event will be held in the Gibbs Campus, SS Lobby.  Pizza will be provided!!

This is a great opportunity for students to meet local employers and participate in career workshops. Some of these workshops include such topics as resume writing, interviewing techniques, internships, civic engagement and how to obtain a job with a challenging background. Even more, students will have the chance to get professional head shots that they can utilize for their LinkedIn page. Finally, City Council Member Steve Cornell will be on hand to discuss some of the job opportunities that are available for students in the Social Science and Human Services. In fact, Steve is both is social worker and a city councilor. Thus, he marries the best of the social sciences and human services in an effort to give back to the community. He is also motivated to inspire our students to be passionate about the Social Sciences.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/896745587380493/

To RSVP, click here:

http://web.spcollege.edu/survey/26895

CNN Commentator Bakari Sellers will be coming to SPC for 2 Civic Forums

CNN Commentator Bakari Sellers will be coming to SPC for Social and Behavioral Sciences Week. He will be participating in 2 forums! His talks will be titled Making Democracy Work- The State of Our Politics. Bakari Sellers represented the 90th district of the lower house of the South Carolina state legislature from 2006 to 2014. He accomplished this feat in dramatic fashion given that he was just 22 years old when he defeated a longtime incumbent. Thus, he became the youngest representative in the South Carolina state legislature. As someone who is just 34 years old and is a millennial with additional policy aspirations, this will be a great opportunity for our students to engage with a dynamic and groundbreaking speaker.

CNN correspondent Bakari Sellers comes to SPC

The 1st event is Student-only (free as well) and will be held at American Stage from 12:00 to 1:30 pm at the DT Campus on October 10th.

Please click here to register.
https://web.spcollege.edu/survey/27253

The second event will be held at the Seminole Campus on the same day from 6 to 8pm. This event is open to the entire community.

Click here to register:
https://solutions.spcollege.edu/events/making-democracy-work-the-state-of-politics-today-and-where-we-are-headed/

April Community Engagement Events for Social & Behavioral Sciences

The Social & Behavioral Sciences & Human Services Department is proud to conclude the Spring 2018 semester with a variety of community engagement events.  A timely forum & film on sexual harassment titled You Are The One starts things off on Thursday, April 19. The film will be shown at the Seminole Campus (UP303) at 3pm and is presented by the PSI BETA Honor Society. They are the resident psychology honor society at the Seminole Campus.

Following up on Thursday, April 26th is a forum on autism. Indeed, this forum will be held on Autism Awareness Day and is titled Fostering a Community of Care. This title is extremely appropriate given that President Williams’ vision for SPC revolves around creating a community of care. The forum will be held at the American Stage Theatre at the DT Campus and will be led by Dr. Mark Durand, USF Professor. Dr. Durant is an expert on autism disorders who has published over 15 books on the subject. His research focuses on establishing models in order to better understand autism behavior. The forum promtly begins at 230pm.

Lastly, come learn more about Ancient African Civilizations at the Carter Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg. The event is on Saturday, April 28. The St. Petersburg Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) will be showing a film that documents the rich history and legacy of Ancient African Civilizations. The event begins at 10am and is open to the public.

For more information, contact Dr. Douglas Rivero @ 727-394-6948 or rivero.douglas@spcollege.edu. Additional info can be found below:

https://spcollege.facebook.com/groups/1844222962531700/

 

SBS Community Week Highlights

We are proud to announce that Community Week for the Social & Behavioral Sciences was very successful! Faculty, students and guest speakers participated in a variety of educational forums.

On Monday, March 26th, students at the Clearwater campus enjoyed a riveting presentation by Ben Montgomery from the Tampa Bay Times. He discussed the importance of the press and investigative reporting in helping to document and correct social injustices. Some examples of his amazing work in this area include his reporting on the human rights abuses that took place at the Dozier/Florida School for Boys as well as an extensive analysis of police shootings in the state of Florida. Tying past and present, Ben explained that racial discrimination is a part of Florida history that must be addressedFinally, Ben discussed the importance of supporting local newspapers, such as the Tampa Bay Times. He chronicled how big corporations have bought out many local papers. In their quest for quick profits for their shareholders, corporations have eviscerated investigate reporting. He worries that this is a threat to democracy. This was part of the 2018 SPC Reads Author Series. Several talented local authors were selected for this prestigious honor.
However, SBSHS was lucky to have a 2nd SPC Reads Author participate. Professor Sheree L. Greer gave a dynamic, engaging and fun presentation at the Gibbs Campus on Wednesday, March 28th. Entitled “Point of View Matters: Just Like Black Lives”, Sheree pushed students to consider views from a variety of marginalized perspectives. As such, she discussed several powerful cases (such as Trayvon Martin) in which the dominant narrative ignored the voices of minority groups. Many more examples can be found in her new book that is entitled “A Return to Arms.” Sheree concluded with a hopeful message about the importance of engaging in activist causes. Whether it is direct action or simply providing a meal to people who are going to a march, no action is too small. Above all, be kind and listen to your fellow man with civility and respect.
Students from the Social & Behavioral Sciences also participated in several forums.  On March 27th, Savannah Strandlof delivered an excellent presentation about the SPC Model UN team to a group of interested students at the Seminole campus.
She discussed her experiences with MUN, the process for applying for the team and the amazing work that students do at domestic and international conferences. At the DT Campus,  Micheal Sporck (another MUN student) also discussed his experiences with the MUN team at the Galapagos Islands. He discussed how this amazing outside the classroom experience has done wonders for his resume.
SBSHS Week concluded with a SBSHS Faculty Interdisciplinary Discussion & Career Conversation on Thursday, March 29th. A variety of panelists engaged in a spirited discussion regarding such issues as race relations, drugs, incarceration, poverty and gun control.  They did so in an interdisciplinary way as we had a variety of disciplines represented. These included Government, Psychology, Criminology, History and SLS. Kudos to faculty members Sara Brzezinski, Bledar Prifti, Boris Damianov, Brian Turnbull and Cynthia Fox. The panel was moderated by Dr. Douglas Rivero, chair of SBSHS at Seminole. Dr. Joseph Smiley, Dean of SBSHS, was also on hand to support the panelists.