Face in the Crowd: Zoe Schenk and Elan Bustillos

Evelyn Yang and Madeline Nguyen

Senior holds the gavel at PACMUN conference

by Evelyn Yang, opinion editor

The Pacific Model United Nations (PACMUN) conference will take place from Nov. 10 to Nov. 11 with an expected 800 delegates, and senior Zoe Schenk is in charge of it all. Schenk is this year’s Secretary General of PACMUN, the largest MUN conference in Washington state.

“It’s my job to make sure the staff are trained, the materials are ordered and the conference goes off without a hitch,” Schenk said.

So far, she said that she has primarily been ordering materials — including pens, gavels, handbooks and folders — in addition to re-organizing the staff training process and working on the hotel contract. Despite the hard work, Schenk said that she is looking forward to the conference.

“There’s a lot of prep work,” she said, “so it’s going to be really exciting when I finally get everything done and just get to be at [PACMUN].”

At conferences, students are assigned to committees to represent different countries and discuss current real-world issues. In the past few years, Schenk said that MUN has taught her that she has strong debate and leadership skills.

“I love getting to meet new people and then [working] with them to create solutions to problems that have been around forever,” she said. “I’ve gained an appreciation for the diplomatic process, and for the value of research.”

Schenk originally joined MUN as a sophomore. Since then, she has received several awards and honors: she won Best Delegate at her first and second conferences, and a Verbal Commendation and Best Small Delegation at the North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN) conference.

Regarding her college and career path, Schenk said that she intends to double major in environmental studies and political science, with a minor in international studies. She said that MUN has definitely influenced her future plans, especially in terms of confidence.

“There have been times when I felt like I just wanted to give up and go to an easier college and… a less stressful job,” she said. “MUN has continually reminded me that I love research, debate and leadership.”

Schenk said that she is grateful for her team of fellow Secretariat members, and that she could not have done this without them.

“Sometimes it’s hard to explain why I love MUN so much,” she said. “It just fosters this community of driven, creative teens and I’m so glad I get to be a part of it.”


Senior builds medical cart for handicapped child

by Madeline Nguyen, reporter

Two strangers bearing a small device with wheels walk through the front door of a little girl’s house.  She grins, accepting the gift. This device, constructed from an old stroller, would build a remarkable bond between them.

Five-year-old Ariana Steadman has a condition where she has to be constantly on a ventilator and an oxygen machine.  Last summer, after meeting her nurses, senior Elan Bustillos spent two months designing and building a medical cart for her to carry her breathing equipment in.

“I want to apply my engineering skills to making something important, [something] that helps change somebody’s life,” Bustillos said.

When the cart was completed, Bustillos and his father gave it to Steadman in person.

“She was really excited.  [The cart] looked a lot cooler and has adjustable handles.  When we gave it to her, it was near her birthday, which we didn’t know about, and she was like ‘aww, how did you know it was my birthday?’  It was so cute,” Bustillos said.

Just recently, Bustillos and his father attended a conference with Steadman’s parents and caretakers, where the cart they made over the summer was evaluated.

“They gave us some ideas [for improvement].  For instance, her tubes from the ventilator would sometimes slip off,” Bustillos said.  “She had trouble getting up big curbs because she doesn’t have the leverage to lift it up.”

After the conference, Bustillos’ involvement in this project led him to network new opportunities.  “A company called Ventec made a new respiration machine that weighs only 12 pounds, but they haven’t thought of making it so that little children can carry it,” Bustillos said.

His father’s colleague wants to set up a meeting between some of the directors of this company and Bustillos.

“This sounds just crazy to me, because I just made a little cart out of a little stroller and now this board director of a huge company wants to meet with me about my design,” said Bustillos.  “They’re professionals, and I don’t feel like I can do much compared to them, but I want to try to do something.”

During the two months that Bustillos spent designing and building Steadman’s cart, Bustillos said he was mostly focused on engineering.  He said he didn’t really develop the real emotional bond until he met her.

“I never actually saw Ari until I gave her that one prototype.  All I knew were the stories that her parents talked about,” he said.  “I didn’t really know how this could completely change her life. It was really nice to see how happy she was.”