Three seniors enjoy putting their communication skills on stage in mock mayoral debate

Model U.N. experience pays dividends

Three seniors enjoy putting their communication skills on stage in mock mayoral debate

Three Midwestern State University students took the stage for the mayoral debate on Oct. 1.

No, they’re not vying for the job of Wichita Falls mayor. At least not yet. But political science professor Steve Garrison was proud of the professional way the trio handled the experience in a pre-debate session at KFDX. Garrison later moderated the debate between Mayor Stephen Santellana, Kevin Hunter, and James Huling.

The students said their experience in Model United Nations. helped prepare them for a mock political debate,  and they believe those skills will transfer to many areas of their professional life in the future.

For senior Crege La Ronde, an engineering major, it was interesting for him to research the other side of a political argument he would usually make. He played the role of Hunter.

“The interesting thing was playing someone who I had no political alignment with,”  Crege said. “It forced me to see a different perspective when it came to politics. It was a fun experience. And it gave me more confidence in my political perspectives.”

How will this help him?

“I’m going to fit it into engineering actually, just like when you’re debating proposals,” Crege  said. “It takes those skills when you have an idea and need to convince someone of your idea. All of these skills are transferable to my field.”

Senior Shelbi Stogdill has three majors (political science, history, and global studies) and also serves as president of the Student Government Association. Her experience in Model U.N. was helpful in the debate, she said, even though she was the “mayor” and her opponents came at her.

“I got attacked a lot,” Shelby said. “I had the most rebuttals. I think the biggest thing I got out of it is the experience of convincing someone of your ideas after you hear others. And to hear how everyone has different ideas, but then be able to convince people of your ideas. I watched the mayoral debate. It was cool to see how we gave our answers, and then watch and see (the candidates) be asked the same questions.”

Amanda Threlkeld, Crege La Ronde, and Shelby Stogdill participated in a mock debate for Wichita Falls mayor
Amanda Threlkeld, Crege La Ronde, and Shelbi Stogdill participated in a mock debate for Wichita Falls mayor.

Amanda Threlkeld, a senior accounting major, was more of a political unknown playing the role of James Huling.

“It was interesting,” Amanda said. “It was hard going against someone who has been mayor, and you don’t have a political background. The mock debates at national Model U.N. you go in with a planned speech, but people bring up different points and topics or switch to a different idea. You have to be able to come up with something on the spot and still align with your .”

Garrison said what the students gained from this experience is what “the mission of Midwestern” is all about. Communication skills are transferrable to any career field. “The reality is that engineers these days are looking for money from a lot of sources, and your company may have to go to the legislature and convince them you need money for this project,” Garrison said.

Garrison has appeared numerous times as a political expert discussing elections, but he said moderating the debate still made him nervous. “I never thought I’d be doing television,” Garrison said. “It was a full hour, and they’re in my earpiece; that was something I’d never done before. It was nerve-wracking, but it was a good experience.”

Garrison, who also is the director of the Redwine Honors Program, had reason to smile at the end, and not only because he was pleased to be able to serve the public as a fair moderator. “The people who put on the debate put on debates all over Texas – they did the John Cornyn debate (for U.S. Senate) – and at the end of the night, the two guys in charge of it came up and said they could tell you have some fantastic students at Midwestern. All three have participated in Model United Nations; they’ve been to New York City, and I knew they wouldn’t be intimidated by the mock debate.”

Contact Us

About Model United Nations

Model UN is a competition and learning simulation that draws students from around the world to the Model UN Conference in New York City. Students serve on various committees organized by policy area, and they are charged with developing solutions to existing global problems such as combating micro-plastics in the ocean, or financing development in the developing world, among other situations. Students also create position papers – documents representing a country’s position on key policy questions – and defend their assigned country’s position.

MSU Texas earned recognition with a Distinguished Delegation Award in 2019 at the Model United Nations Conference in New York City. Shelbi Stogdill won in First General Assemly committee, and Crege La Ronde was recognized for work in the U.N. Environmental Assembly on controlling the proliferation of micro-plastics in the oceans.

The MSU Texas delegation also won Oustanding Delegation Award in 2018.

MSU Texas seniors Amanda Threlkeld, Shelby Stogdill, and Crege La Ronde participate in a mock debate for the Wichita Falls mayoral election.
MSU Texas seniors Amanda Threlkeld, Shelbi Stogdill, and Crege La Ronde participate in a mock debate for the Wichita Falls mayoral election.