College of Public & International Affairs pulls in top honors

College of Public & International Affairs pulls in top honors

The College of Public and International Affairs (CPIA) team received two high awards at the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) regional tournament over the weekend of  February 11-12 at Yale University. The annual competition brings together over 5,300 undergraduate students in intercollegiate mock trial contests across the country.

Members of the CPIA team took high honors in their second year of competing among top universities from across the New Haven region. Max Ishmael ’20 won first place as Best Witness and Pedro Ramos ’17 tied for second place as Best Attorney.

Pedro Ramos who tied for second place as Best Attorney, Prof. William Lay, and Max Ishmael who won first place as Best Witness.

“This was my first time doing a mock trail,” said Ishmael, a freshman in the IPED program who “bonded with a lot of my teammates.”

Under the stewardship of Criminal Justice and Human Security (CJHS) Chair William Lay, and CJHS Professor Joseph Dunne who served as the team’s coach, the UB contingency received high praise from judges in a highly competitive and impressive arena of entrants. “The team learned their effort was respected and they can compete against any opponent,” said Dunne. IPED major and Best Attorney runner up Ramos concurred, “Being able to compete against some of the best schools in the world, such as Yale University, and winning this award was a once in a lifetime experience.”

The entire CPIA team included:

  • Michael Benbow ’18, CJHS
  • Simon De Sena ’19, IPED
  • Daniella Esteves Bustamante ’18, BUAD
  • Stephanie Holman ’20, CJHS
  • Max Ishmael ’20, IPED
  • Cyristal Joseph ’18, IPED
  • Kimberly Miller ’19, CJHS
  • Zuleika Nieves ’17, CJHS
  • Pedro Ramos ’17
  • Karlena Robinson Jenkins ’18, ENGL

Training was rigorous, explained Dunne, who has taught in the CJHS program for four years. “Students were motivated and worked extremely hard in preparation. It required a large amount of personal effort and teamwork. Their achievements were well deserved.” Added Ramos, “I spent 20 hours a week in preparation for this tournament, doing countless hours of training along with Professors Lay and Dunne.”

AMTA hosts over 650 mock trial teams from some 400 universities and colleges nationwide. The top teams from each regional tournament move forward and compete in the Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) competition in March. Looking ahead, the goal of the UB contingency is to advance to this next round.

“We can get there,” said Professor Lay. “We learned a great deal from last year’s experience, and from this year’s as well. Our core of veterans is growing and we are understanding the need for dedicated preparation.”

Best Attorney awardee Ramos is confident. “We are a young team and already we have shown we have some true potential. I think with enough funding and training we can become a national champion. My advice to anyone thinking about law school or to those who just want to learn some argumentative debating skills is to join the team immediately, you won’t regret it.”