By Alexandra Bassil

A.J. Skiera

By Alexandra Bassil
Illinois native’s interest in public service and international affairs shaped by Model United Nations experience.
A.J. Skiera

A.J. Skiera, 22, from Wauconda, Illinois, arrived at the University of Miami as a freshman torn between wanting to study medicine and law. He instead realized that, as a member of the Model United Nations team, he really wanted to pursue a career in public service and international affairs. Skiera graduates this month with a double major in history and political science, and a double minor in international studies and philosophy. His experience as a Model UN team member proved to be one of Skiera’s most enduring encounters.

“I believe while attending UM the changes I experienced were not only in the classroom. Personally, I changed and so did my professional career goals,” said Skiera. “While studying at UM my future goals were enhanced by my involvement in the Model United Nations team. The experience gave me confidence to become a competent public speaker and to engage with people I didn’t know,” he added. After three years, he was elected president of the on-campus organization.

Skiera learned about the Model UN at Canefest, the annual involvement fair hosted by Student Activities and Student Organizations during Orientation. He auditioned and was given an interview. With the Model UN team, he traveled to 12 conferences in the northeast and learned how to subtly politic and find friends and influence their vote for his ideas. Another experience that informed his pursuit of international affairs was the Model UN subset called “Crisis.” The experience flips the script, so rather than representing the UN General Assembly, the training is designed to teach students how to represent any group of people dealing with issues at any time, such as fleeing refugees. The highly-organized simulation is led by a crisis director whose team reproduces and progresses the issue over a specific period of time.

Skiera is a Foote Fellow, Gables Scholarship and Presidential Scholarship recipient. The academic freedom of the Foote Fellowship allowed him to study subjects related to his intended career, such as history, political science, international studies and philosophy.

His career aspirations are paying off as he landed a job in our country’s capital. “Since my passion is government and public service, after graduation I’ve accepted a position and will be working in Washington, D.C. with Atlas Network,” said Skiera. He and the organization became acquainted when he worked there as a marketing and communications fellow and intern in 2016.

Read Skiera’s note to his fellow graduates