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Alma College’s Model UN Team: A Dynasty that Should Make the Yankees Jealous

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If society celebrated smarts like it does sports, kids would collect trading cards of Alma College’s Model United Nations teams.

They’re truly the New York Yankees of the competition, winning the highest awards at the National Model UN Conference for an incredible 18 straight years.

If anything, the Yankees should be considered the Alma College of baseball. That’s because the independent college has won a mind-boggling 34 top prizes overall, 13 more than the Yankees.

The event has surged in popularity because it celebrates team work, diplomacy, public speaking and general knowledge — and is a knock-down, drag-out competition. Teams meet in New York, represent various nations and simulate the work of the real UN by ironing out agreements on hot-button issues like the environment.

The key to success is preparation, mastery of the issues and tons of practice. Alma has become a juggernaut under coach Derick “Sandy” Hulme, a political science professor who continually guides his teams to victory over far larger colleges and universities.

“They are just an incredible group,” the director of the group that sponsors the National Conference said.

Alma’s success has led to a $2 million gift to an alumnus to support the program and fellowship that has sent its members to summer projects in nations including Sierra Leone and the Philippines. Alma’s team has produced at least four Truman Scholars, nine Fulbright Scholars and two Gates-Cambridge Scholars.

It may never be as popular as baseball, but its participants value it more. That’s because they follow their own path, an attitude nurtured and cherished at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.