When Curan A. VanDerWielen ’21 was applying to colleges, he knew one thing for sure: He wanted a school with a competitive Model United Nations program, where students, acting as UN delegates, negotiate and debate world issues in simulated meetings.
At Newburyport High School in Massachusetts, Model UN had been a big part of VanDerWielen’s life. He had co-founded a regional middle school-level MUN conference, served as a student adviser for a local middle school team, and enrolled in the Best Delegate Summer Model UN Institute.
He visited campus and sat in on an International Security class taught by Michael Butler, associate professor of political science. VanDerWielen was hooked. He found the environment genuine, and he connected with Clark’s motto, “Challenge Convention. Change Our World.” With the addition of his Traina Scholarship, Clark also proved affordable.
“I sincerely wanted to make a difference with whatever I ended up studying and pursuing as a career, and I felt Clark’s message and quality of education were perfect for me,” he says.
Today, VanDerWielen is deeply involved in Model UN at Clark and internationally. He’s secretary-general of ClarkMUN X; in the past, he served as director of operations for Clark MUN IX and crisis director of ClarkMUN VIII. Outside of Clark, he’s conference management officer for Wfuna International Model UN, which offers workshops taught by United Nations officials, topic briefings by UN agencies, and conference sessions at the UN headquarters in New York.
Last summer, VanDerWielen returned to Best Delegate as a diplomacy fellow. For seven weeks, he and other fellows traveled coast to coast, teaching and mentoring students interested in Model United Nations, international affairs, and international law. VanDerWielen mentored over 70 students at Georgetown, Harvard, Austin College, and UCLA.
“Being able to provide more worldly perspectives for the kids I worked with was extremely fulfilling, especially considering the divisive times in American culture and politics today,” he says.
VanDerWielen is continuing to work at Best Delegate as editor of the company’s online education content.
“I now manage a team of media writers for Best Delegate, where we are working to improve the quality and breadth of the educational materials provided through their websites,” he says.
At Clark, VanDerWielen is double-majoring in political science (with a concentration in international relations) and global environmental studies, a combination that allows him to better understand the “soft” and “hard” components of environmental policy, he explains. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in environmental policy and sustainability.
In the short term, he wants to conduct research that further synthesizes what he has learned, and hopes to publish the results.
“I’m certain of the importance of improving environmental policies and sustainability for both our country and the international community,” VanDerWielen says. “The education I receive at Clark is going to help me make a difference in those realms, and I’m excited to see what students like me can do for the world when we enter the field.”