By Kristin Rowe, Terry Chung and Lisa Martin
As the year comes to a close, we profile on our blog some remarkable student leaders who have left their mark on the THIMUN Qatar and THIMUN Online Community. No better person to kick off this series but Jessica Chen, outgoing Secretary General for the jrOMUN program.
Jessica Chen has been the backbone of the jrO-MUN program for the past three years. She critically supported the first jrO-MUN Secretary General, Rohan Sinha, to establish the program, and then when she took up the position outright herself, she polished all its features to a shine. She remained in the position for 18 months, smoothing the path for her successor, Terry Chung, and she has remained as a consultant “SG Emeritus” figure through her senior year.
Jessica provides an unparalleled example of a leader who has not gone “wide” but “deep” with her commitment to MUN through this outreach mentoring program. Under her leadership, jrOMUN has flourished and has the following noteable achievements:
- jrO-MUN has catered for international students from Asia, the United States, the Middle East, and Europe – that is, delegates, chairs, mentors, and members of the Secretariat.
- The program has become such a staple of the MUN global community that teachers at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, the International School of Bangkok, and Hsinchu Technology School in Taiwan now teach classes which they have designed to dovetail with the jrO-MUN program (also including the MS MUN summer academy course)
- jrO-MUN mentorship has evolved to engage student leaders across Asia and the Middle East (particularly international schools in Qatar) in a program that no only supports new MUN delegates in comparable international schools but also provides mentoring for the mentors of delegates in under-resourced communities such as in Afghanistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka
Jessica was invited to attend the Qatar (MUN) Leadership Conference in 2014 and 2015 to present workshops on MUN mentoring programs and tools, and MUN Secretariat team-building. Additionally at Taipei American School, she has been at the forefront of that evolution from a Model UN simulation and debate program (essentially self-serving) to a more service-oriented and community-minded program that genuinely models the mission of the United Nations by unifying the strengths of others for the benefit of all.
Jessica is the consummate facilitator-leader. She is remarkable – not for stand-out traits typically associated with extroverts, but rather as the most high-functioning of administrators: a leader who models hard work and commitment, a leader who draws together great thinkers and doers, a leader who draws strength and “best work” out of others, while ensuring the smooth functioning of any program or project for which she is responsible.
Kavya Nayak (jrO-MUN DSG) describes her as her first MUN mentor back in middle school – indeed, someone who has continued to mentor Kavya not only through the past three years of MUN experiences, but also far beyond into academic and social support; Kavya points out that Jessica’s mentors have become her friends. Justin Rhee (co-SG of TASMUN alongside Jessica) also recognizes that Jessica’s group of friends are mostly MUN students from different grade levels, and that Jessica has thus advanced a culture of inter-grade MUN relationships. The reason why Jessica mentees become her close friends is because Jessica is a person who always has to help other people if she sees that they are struggling, in any regard. Jessica often helps with social and academic choices. Her opinion is greatly valued among her friends.
Terry Chung, incoming Secretary General for jrOMUN, notes “Jessica has the amazing ability to bring those that work with her together. She facilitates a professional yet very personal environment where each team member enjoys working with each other. Her method of mentorship and trust in her mentees to excel has helped many novice delegates, and officers to grow into better speakers.”
“She emerged as one of the most important leaders in the OMUN community, and her mark on jrOMUN is indelible”, said Lisa Martin, founder of the OMUN program. “It has been an honor to watch her mature into an incredible global leader. She will be missed by one and all in the OMUN community!”