Largest campus turnout in fourth annual world affairs competition

Local high school students contend for a chance at national competition

2017 winners of regional Academic WorldQuest competition hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno Honors Program on campus from McQueen High School. Left to right – Advisor Julie Wakefield, and students, grades 10-12: Watson Jia, Kyler Phillips, Noah Christiansen and Daniel Sedano.

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2/3/2017 | By: Matthew Ravaglioli |

The University of Nevada, Reno's Honors Program and the Northern Nevada International Center - a non-profit organization serving Nevada's educational and international oriented communities - cosponsored the fourth annual regional Academic WorldQuest competition Jan. 28, at the Frank and Joan Randall Rotunda in the Knowledge Center on campus. The yearly competition includes subjects such as international relations, current events, U.S. foreign policy and geography of world regions.

"In a globalized era, it is important that our youth are prepared for the increasingly interconnected world as businesses and organizations develop international influence and operate on a more international scale," Daniel Villanueva, assistant director of the Honors Program, said. "Honors makes sponsoring this contest every year a priority because many of the local students decide upon applying not only to the University, but to Honors, specifically. It is a great way to show the community what the University can do for high achieving students interested in global affairs."

McQueen High School won the competition, meaning that a four-person team from their school will represent northern Nevada in the 14th annual Carlos and Malú Alvarez Academic WorldQuest National Competition, in Washington, D.C., the weekend of April 29. Around the country, 45 World Affairs Councils hold similar regional contests to decide four-person winning teams to move on to the national contest.

One of the winning students from McQueen High School, Watson Jia, has already applied to the Honors Program at the University. Instead of simply considering himself an American citizen, Jia is a citizen of the world.

"The competition is a way for me to learn more about what's happening in the world, why it's important, and why I should care," Jia said. "It is my duty as a citizen to be aware of world affairs, and WorldQuest is a fun and interesting way to fulfill that obligation."

The fourth year of the contest in northern Nevada recorded its highest number of registered students, teams and schools. This year's 52 local student competitors comprised 13 teams from five high schools in northern Nevada and California, including the Davidson Academy, McQueen High School, Sage Ridge School, Lowry High School in Winnemucca, and Fortuna High School in northern California. The University's International Activities Committee provided support, and the local Chipotle franchise in Reno provided food for students and attendees.

"The number of registered teams and students has grown from two schools and five teams in 2014 to five schools and 13 teams this year, but there's always room for more students," Villanueva said. "We hope we can break the record again next year."

The contest is open to all northern Nevada and northern California high schools. To be a part of future WorldQuest competitions, contact AWQ Coordinator Daniel Villanueva at danielv@unr.edu or 775-784-1455, or Alyssa Yocom at northernnv.awq@gmail.com.

Participants of 2017 WorldQuest group photo

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