By Leah Cerilli
The School of Diplomacy’s Morgan McMichen and Noelle Sorich are currently serving as UN Youth Representatives. Their job is to represent and to network on behalf of The School of Diplomacy as well as Seton Hall’s Center for UN Studies and Global Governance. Youth Representatives are responsible for attending Department of Public Information and Non-Governmental Organization briefings at the UN and writing content about them for the Center’s blog, Permanent Observer.
The School of Diplomacy is able to appoint Youth Observers each semester because of its unique status with the UN. It is treated as an equivalent of an NGO. This gives the School a close and special relationship with the UN.
McMichen stated that all of Seton Hall’s Youth Observers get together once a week to decide who will attend and cover what meeting. She stated that their goal is to cover as many different events as possible “as we aspire to produce insightful information for other students, faculty, and the general public.” Sorich added that the representatives work very hard to ensure that all of the meetings open for them to attend are covered in order to be a reliable source for UN-related news and happenings, as well as represent the School of Diplomacy in the most complete and accurate way possible.
When asked about the most important qualities needed to succeed as a Youth Representative, Sorich emphasized the independence and adaptability needed to succeed in the position. The UN’s schedule changes often and on short notice, and it can be stressful to navigate where and when Representatives are supposed to be at a given time. Representatives are often alone when making decisions and navigating the UN, which can be daunting, especially with the pressure of both representing themselves as individuals and on behalf of the School of Diplomacy. She recommended taking chances and talking to others at the UN whenever possible, in order to maximize the chances of successfully networking, or at the very least learning something new.
McMichen said that the most important qualities in a Youth Representative are a knowledge and passion of the UN’s charter. She also discussed the importance of good reading, writing, and communication skills. She believes “to represent is to express and to designate, both of which require a strong foundation in communication.”
Sorich’s experiences seemed to echo this idea. She serves as Vice President of Seton Hall’s United Nations Association, as well as Vice President of Seton Hall’s chapter of the United States- United Nations Association. Such experience dictates Sorich’s knowledge and passion for the UN’s work. She also said that the experience is giving her valuable communication and writing skills for writing short policy memos.
McMichen believes the most important experience preparing her for this position was her reign as Miss Czech-Slovak Queen for 2014-2015. Within this position, she was responsible for “acting as a cultural ambassador representing the Czech and Slovak populations in the US.” Her duties included “meeting with prominent figures such as ambassadors and consuls, educating others on the Czech and Slovak heritage, traveling to festivals and pageants to speak and be a judge, mentoring women eager to represent their heritage as state and national queens, as well as being a professional public figure and role model.” She credits this experience as giving her the ability and confidence to serve as a representative.
One of the most striking experiences Sorich has had thus far as a UN Youth Representative was picking up her grounds pass. The woman in charge of that particular office was assisting three other people at the time, and switched between different languages as she helped each person. “She changed between languages so seamlessly and it was so cool to know that you were in a place where communication barriers were at least a little bit smaller between people of the world,” Sorich stated. She added that her favorite part of the position is being able to go the UN Headquarters and say that she works there, as she had been dreaming of attending events there for years.
Sorich added that she was also thankful that the Youth Representatives are granted grounds passes, which allows them to access events regularly without having to obtain a visitors pass each time. McMichen echoed this, saying she is “prideful to walk the grounds of the UN, sporting my UN badge.”
McMichen described her a recent exciting experience, which happened at a forum entitled Women and Girls in Science: The Impact of the Media. The power was out in the conference room where the forum was supposed to take place, so it was moved to the General Assembly. Normally, only those who are member-state delegates or participants in the official UN tour are able to enter the General Assembly, so it was a special moment and photo op for her. She was also able to meet and take a picture with Iraqi Princess Nisreen Al-Hashemite while attending the forum.
Both Sorich and McMichen had advice for students looking to get involved with the Youth Representatives. Sorich encouraged following the Permanent Observer blog in order to stay updates on events happening at the UN. She said students should pay particular attention when events are advertised, because most are open to the public as long as an RSVP is received on time. McMichen encouraged any diplomacy student passionate about the UN to apply for a Youth Representative position, as spots open up every semester. She credits the experience as any student of diplomacy who is passionate about the UN to apply for it. She cites her experience as “an amazing opportunity to network, get involved on committees and with NGO’s, to become familiar with the grounds.”
For students not interested in becoming a UN Youth Representative, but interested in learning more about their work, McMichen encouraged reading the Permanent Observer to read briefings of events and learn how to attend the ones that are open to the public. Students can also write for the Permanent Observer if they wish. McMichen said that they encourage guest writers, and that it is a great way to impress professors and potential employers. Additionally, she recommended interested students follow the Youth Representative’s Twitter account @shu_un_studies and retweet or reply to any posts that speak to readers in order for readers and Representatives to be involved with each other. She also encouraged students to provide their thoughts and feedback on the program.