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Mackenzie Ricca: To Oxford and Beyond

Last weekend, Mackenzie Ricca returned to West Long Branch after winning three individual speaker awards at a Model UN contest in Oxford, England.

A junior political science student with a concentration in international relations, Ricca has treasured her role as president of Model UN for the past two years, winning seven out of eight conferences with the team of 40 students.

Now, Ricca has been invited to study two terms at New College, a constituent of Oxford University, from Jan. 7 to June 30.

According to Ken Mitchell Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Politi­cal Science and Sociology and Associate Professor of Politi­cal Science, Ricca is the first from Monmouth to be invited to study at New College as an undergraduate.

“New College is one of their most prestigious universities at Oxford, and they only take like two or three abroad students a year, which is really awesome,” said Ricca. “It was totally an honor, and I was not expecting it.”

“The University’s study abroad programs are open admission to anybody,” said Mitchell. “Last fall in 2018, when she won the Oxford [Model UN] tournament, her judge was one of three University professors who sits on the board that decides which students can come from abroad to Oxford…That led her to applying and getting in.”

Looking ahead at this exciting experience, Ricca said that she is mostly looking forward to meeting new people and learning a curriculum outside the United States.

The curriculum at New College consists of working one-on-one with a professor, writing papers, and meeting two times a week—similar to the independent studies offered here at Monmouth.

“I’m super excited to get that one-on-one with an Oxford professor and to learn things that aren’t offered at Monmouth,” said Ricca. “They have a lot of good programs like Middle Eastern Studies and International Policy, everything that I would want to learn about that aren’t necessarily offered in the U.S.”

After graduating from Monmouth, Ricca hopes to attend the London School of Economics to study international policy, reaching towards her ultimate goal of residing in London and working for the United Nations.

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However, Ricca didn’t always know she wanted to pursue political science until meeting the professors who inspired her in the political science department that feels like a family.

She said, “Since I was younger I’ve had a little bit of a kick to me and I like to argue, so I wanted to be a lawyer, and then I came here and met Dr. Mitchell and he totally changed my idea about what I wanted to do. And then I was sitting in Dr. Dooley’s Intro to Political Science class and he was talking about Model UN and I was like, ‘I need to do this. This is something that sounds so cool.’”

Since Ricca became president of Model UN, the team has grown from six to forty students.

“It just makes me really happy to see that something I put that much time and effort into has flourished,” she said. “The last two years that I’ve been here has been an awesome experience, and I want to leave a good legacy for them after I leave.”

“She’s a really interesting story,” said Mitchell. “Part of her gift is that she works harder than anybody.”

A zeal for the field of political science, Ricca’s ambition will take her to the places she excels in the most.

She said, “Every time I go to London, it’s like, ‘This is where I want to be, this is where I want to spend the rest of my life.’ It’s just a welcoming, open place, and I feel like Oxford especially is magical.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Mackenzie Ricca

PHOTO TAKEN from Beaumont Street