University Honors Program brings WorldQuest competition to northern Nevada

McQueen High School will move on to national competition in Washington D.C.

3/6/2014 | By: Annie Conway  |

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Honors Program and the Northern Nevada International Center sponsored the first annual Northern Nevada Academic WorldQuest competition, held last month. Three teams from Reno High School and one team from McQueen High School participated in WorldQuest and the winning team from McQueen High School will represent northern Nevada at the national competition in Washington D.C. Sunday, April 26.

WorldQuest is an annual competition that quizzes high school students about international affairs topics. Students compete in teams of four and high schools can nominate multiple teams. The national competition is sponsored by the World Affairs Councils of America and more than 4,000 students compete each year in regional competitions hosted by local international affairs councils.

“The idea is to get high school students energized about international affairs,” Daniel Villanueva, assistant director of the Honors Program, said. “We also hope to link these high achieving students to the Honors Program here and ultimately recruit them to the University of Nevada, Reno.”

The competition consists of ten rounds with a total of 100 questions and gives students the platform to demonstrate their knowledge about international affairs.

“The day of the local competition, the students were collaborating really well and discussing international affairs on a high level,” Villanueva said. “This kind of interaction is rarely seen at the high school level.”

The winning teams from around the country have the chance to meet with diplomats, sit in on panels about international affairs and have discussions with topic experts in Washington D.C. in addition to representing their local chapter in the national competition.

Villanueva helped organize the WorldQuest competition in Las Vegas, Nev. for eight years prior to moving to Reno. He saw the opportunity to bring the competition to the northern Nevada community when he learned that Reno’s local world affairs council chapter, the Northern Nevada International Center, was part of the University.

“I found in Las Vegas, and also here in Reno, that there are many students who are interested in international affairs,” Villanueva said. “However, many students do not know how they can apply the topic to their daily lives or what careers are available to them in this field.”

Villanueva, Carina Black, the executive director of the Northern Nevada International Center, and Amy Shannon, a librarian in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, helped mentor the high school students who competed in the competition. This year, several faculty members were willing to be mentors and as the competition continues to grow in recognition and number of participants, Villanueva hopes that more students will take advantage of the mentorship opportunity.

“My hope for the following years is to increase the number of teams and the professor-student interaction,” Villanueva said. “This allows us to not only showcase the Honors Program to high achieving students but also the University and the vast number of opportunities it has to offer.”

In January, the Honors Program and the Northern Nevada International Center also sponsored an Adult Academic WorldQuest as a fundraiser for the students advancing to the national competition. The event raised almost $1,000, which will be used to send the students from McQueen High School to Washington D.C. High school teachers and community members answered international affairs questions from last year’s national competition.

The cost of holding the fundraiser and the cost for the promotion material was also partially covered by a grant the Honors Program received from the International Activities Committee at the University.

“We are very grateful to the International Activities Committee for providing us with the grant,” Villanueva said.

For more information about the Northern Nevada Academic WorldQuest, go to


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