Thank You Seniors: Model UN Seniors

Elisabeth Smith 28 celebrates the Model UN for all of the ways they have contributed to the club over the years.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Elisabeth Smith ’28 celebrates the Model UN for all of the ways they have contributed to the club over the years.

Nobody can say that the 2022-2023 school year was a calm one. Montrose supported an exciting and jammed year with Varsity Soccer and Basketball championship wins, many international exchange trips with students traveling from all over, along with many visits from Montrose’s sister schools’ teachers and administrators, a very active Performing Arts team, and the inception of many new clubs and activities. There has been one rock, I found, that held strong the entire year, and provided a wonderful example for others with their supportive and kind nature: the Model United Nations Seniors. They are a group who I have always and forever will know as people who truly care about one another and put others first, put hard effort into all that they participate in, and inspire joy in everyone around them. Seniors Katrina Barnes, Ava Russo, Meredith Baker, and Caroline Shannahan are all members of the executive team for the club, serving as the President, Vice President, Secretary, and the Corresponding Secretary, respectively. As a group, they have coordinated Montrose’s presence at five major conferences and organized a mini Model UN conference with Xaverian, but even if they did not accomplish any of this, I would still value them as a team who helped me to fall in love with the club.

         Meredith Baker joined Model UN as a junior but was not very active in club meetings because of her NHS tutoring. Now, she is the club’s devoted secretary. She also participates in Bake-a-Change, the Red Key club, and volleyball along with many other activities. Her first conference was at St. John’s Prep on cybersecurity, and she got really into the club. At that conference, she even won the Best Representative award! When Meredith joined as a member of the exec team this year, she told me the reasoning behind it was she wanted to go into diplomacy after college and knew that Model UN would help with that. This year, she worked hard on planning many current events updates for the meetings which is one of my personal favorite parts of the club. The updates included a few pieces of current event news from the week in question and reported clearly on the matter in a very confident tone. This may be coincidental, but the reports always came on weeks when I was too busy to look at the news, so to me they were a lifesaver!

         Meredith told me during our interview that Model UN can be as “serious” or “lighthearted” as you want it to be, and like all things, there is generally a happy medium between the two. An example of this was Montrose’s Mini Conference this year. The topic was the growing tensions between Taiwan and China and the rest of the world’s reaction to the problem. Everybody in attendance spoke many times and represented their assigned nations convincingly and accurately. Resolutions were drafted to help address the problem and make peaceful solutions. On the other side, we did all of this while having fun with each other and creating memories which will last us a lifetime. This is one tradition I certainly hope we will be able to continue next year!

         At the end of our interview, I asked Meredith some questions about the future of the club. First, I began with what type of legacy she wanted to leave with the club. She stated that she wanted to be remembered as an “encouraging figure,” one which describes her perfectly, along with a message to “be confident,” an essential part to MUN. Secondly, I asked about her goals for the future. Her biggest response was that she wanted more middle schoolers to join the club. This particular message resonated well with me as a middle school student, knowing that it is not too hard for them to join, and it is so much fun when you get in the swing of it.

         For the year that I have known her, Meredith has always encouraged me to be a better person and delegate and to always be a genuinely nice person that anybody can strike up a meaningful conversation with. As the secretary of the club’s exec team, I will remember her as one who worked for the best of the team and was a devoted and loyal member to the club. While presenting the Current Events slides, she continually reported in a confident and clear manner that inspired many good conversations during the meetings and deep thoughts of my own. As graduation is approaching, I wish Meredith luck in her next chapter at American University!

         Ava Russo began her time with Model UN as a sophomore, wanting to learn more about current events. She told me that “before MUN, I had little to no idea of what was going on in the world at any given time.” After only one year of being part of the club, she ran for the exec team in junior year, and now is our VP. Ava is a very successful member of many other clubs as she is on the exec team for Bake-A-Change, the Red Key club, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and the Treblemakers, a member of the Math Club and NHS (National Honors Society), and the Looking Glass’s photography editor. She loved the club so much after just her first year, even with conferences being on Zoom, that she ran for the exec team the next year.

         One of her favorite parts of Model UN was “when we would exchange social media accounts with the new friends we had made throughout the day.” After reading this, I immediately thought of all of the great friends I have made with MUN, both in and out of Montrose, and what a wonderful experience this is for everyone. Ava mentions this theme of friendship in the club a few more times, from her MUN friends at Montrose to those she makes from other schools at conferences. This is one of the things that I have loved about Ava this year at Model UN: she values the inherent seriousness of the club, but at the same time, she knows how to have fun with it.

         To finish my interview, I asked Ava two questions regarding the future of the club: what legacy do you want to leave behind? She answered: “I want people to know that, like me, you can join and enjoy Model UN even with absolutely no previous experience!” I love this particular line; it may be my favorite from the entire interview. Ava is such an encouraging person for me, and this describes her perfectly. When asked her biggest goal for the club, she stated she wanted the club “to grow both in size and confidence.” As a member of Model UN, Ava has helped the club grow in many ways, and I am sure everyone in the club will continue this legacy for her and make her wish come true.

         All year, Ava has been there to support and guide everyone and will forever be a terrific leader who is looking for ways to help others in everything she does. She helps me whenever I need it and greets me with a cheerful smile whenever I see her in the halls. I will always remember when I first saw Ava at the Xavierian-Montrose conference back in the fall, how impressive and professional she looked and how much I admired her that day. Montrose is so lucky to have had her as a student for the last seven years, and I am sure that I can speak for everyone to wish her the best of luck at Northeastern next year!

         Katrina Barnes joined the Model UN club right when she came to Montrose during her sophomore year and since her junior year, has been the club’s President. She decided to join the exec team because she wanted “to contribute to the club and its development.” Reading this now, Katrina has certainly achieved this goal! Outside of school she rows for a club team and is a co-president of NHS at Montrose. Even though her title is President, one thing I have always noticed about Katrina is that she does not let that get in the way of serving the club. Watching her and the club all year, I have continuously seen Katrina always be open to help everybody and never got caught up with the prestige of her title. After shadowing this winter for MUN, I saw her leading strongly, but also letting others take the chance to lead and pushing for everyone’s ideas. She helped the group function as one, instead of as four conflicting individuals, and promoted so much good that came through this year.

         Reading through the answers that Katrina sent me, it truly opened my eyes to what a service orientated person she is. In many sections, her words tell the story of how much she loves the club, and it shows how she is always trying her hardest to promote the best of the club. Katrina mentions that being on the exec team requires a lot of time and effort, but all of the benefits of it are the dominant tone in her statement. I have seen her so many times going out of her way to help others, whether it is to chair our mini conference, give me advice on my position paper, or even just to have a conversation with. She is always willing to put herself out there to help in any way she can.

         Asking my questions about the future of the club, Katrina’s answers really fit with her personality as they are both so focused on others instead of herself. First, the reputation that she wanted to leave with Model UN was “the weekly meetings and fun that we had as an exec team.” I have definitely seen this fun all through the year radiate from the team and into the rest of the club, and it has made the year so amazing. Second, Katrina’s goal for the future was the growth of MUN members as she has seen while leading the club. Model UN is an amazing program, and it helps students learn about real conflicts in the world around them, along with improving research and public speaking skills, but most uniquely, the ability to fight for someone else’s opinion, even if you personally do not agree with it. The growth in the club can benefit so many, and it is a very beautiful goal to work for with the club.

         Katrina will be one member of the Class of ’23 who I will never forget for her kindness and general friendliness. She always comes to everything with a sense of humor and contagious smile that brightens up every room she is in. She was a confident and strong leader all year, but is very gracious about her role, and works for the best of the whole team. Katrina is so supportive and encouraging to everyone, selflessly serving anyone that she can. I am sure that I speak on behalf of the whole club on wishing her the best of luck next year at Northeastern!

         Caroline Shannahan joined the Model UN club in sophomore year because she loves learning about different world cultures and thought Model UN “seemed like a way to further explore my love of global learning.” She participates in many other clubs and activities, including SADD, her class’s VP, a co-president of Bake-A-Change, the Red Key club, a JCL (Junior Classical League) co-president, acting in The Sound of Music, and is a lifeguard out of school. Now, as the Corresponding Secretary, Caroline takes care of the communications for the exec team, and writes the messages for the Daily Bulletin about club meetings and such. She first ran for an exec position in junior year, wanting to “dive deeper into the process of Model UN and challenge myself to gain more experience.” As a devoted member of the club, she is always so sweet and kind to everyone she meets, and encourages everyone to be the best person they can both in and out of MUN. While watching Caroline during all of our club meetings as well as conferences, it is incredible to see how much joy she brings to the table, along with all of her thoughtful ideas. Her years at Model UN have helped the club grow so much, and we could never be where we are today without her.

         During the interview, Caroline mentioned a few things that she loves about Model UN, including a post-conference funMUN. She describes this as “a short debate about a fun topic of the delegates’ choice. After discussing current world issues for a few hours, it provides a chance to get to know your fellow delegates in a more personal way.”  She said earlier that one of her favorite things about the club is all of the amazing friends you can make there. There are so many people to meet at both the club in school and at conferences with many schools participating, all of whom have “similar interests as you.” 

         To wrap up the questions, I asked Caroline what she wants for the future of Model UN at Montrose. To begin with, she said that the legacy she wanted to leave with the club was “to learn how to engage with others and learn to think in a more creative way.” There are so many possibilities in every conference to solve the conflict that you are discussing, and as Caroline said, everyone is different, and they can all work towards a solution in their own special way. For the very last question, I asked what Caroline wanted to see most in the future of the club, to which she answered that she hoped that, one day, we could host a conference ourselves. “Hosting a conference enables a school to dive in deep to current world events and provides many new leadership opportunities for members of the club.” I would love to see this wish come true. Even if it is small, hosting a conference would be such an amazing opportunity for the club in the future, and a great way to learn administrative skills. 

         Every time that I have seen Caroline, she always has a bright smile on her face, and greets me every time. She is so friendly and one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever met. At every meeting she has helpful ideas for everything, and works hard for the best of the club whenever she can. I know the whole club will miss Caroline when she graduates, and wish her the best of luck next year at Boston College!

         Before I wrote this article, I interviewed the club advisor, Mrs. Forsgard, about her experience with the Model UN seniors, and one theme was present the whole time: teamwork. She told me that the exec team always did their best to promote the best in each other and in the club. They all worked really hard this year to give the best opportunities to everyone, whether it was by organizing a mini conference with Xaverian, or coordinating attendance to bigger, state-wide events, or even the Current Events report each week. Mrs. Forsgard said that, as she is retiring this year, and all of the exec team is graduating, she is confident with the future of the club next year because of all the work the seniors did this year. I have seen them do so much work all year to bring out the best in everyone, and it is so inspiring to watch. I am certain that I speak for the whole club in wishing every Senior the best of luck next year, and a very heartfelt thank you for all of the work they have done this year. We will miss you!


By Elisabeth Smith ‘28, Middle School Editor