Empowering Global Leaders
Donya Nasser has some advice for young girls today: “Claim your right to the table. Don’t just claim it, demand it.”
That’s what Nasser has done. And now, at age 22, she’s made it all the way to the United Nations, thanks to the development and connections she received through AAUW.
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The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) and the U.S. Department of State selected Nasser to serve as the 2015–16 U.S. youth observer to the United Nations. Nasser’s new position is the culmination of years of honing her leadership skills through AAUW’s programs. Two years ago, she served as one of AAUW’s first U.N. youth representatives and later became a member of the Student Advisory Council and attended Clinton Global Initiative University with AAUW.
Over the next year Nasser will attend high-level meetings and forums and speak to UNA-USA chapters across the country. She will also blog and tweet about her experiences.
“This role is a dream come true,” says Nasser, who recently graduated from St. John’s University. “I’ll be representing American youth at the U.N. and then bringing back the work of the U.N. to them.” She plans to focus specifically on gender equality, civic engagement, transforming global fear into solidarity, and uniting youth.
In her AAUW U.N. youth representative role, Nasser inspired Girl Advocates (a group of younger girls who participate in U.N. activities) and others through her work and presentations during the Commission on the Status of Women in 2014.
These experiences, says Nasser, provided critical networking opportunities and opened doors to help get her where she is today. “Oftentimes people try to be successful by mirroring what others are doing,” she says. “But success is not about that. It’s about finding what you are passionate about. Your passion will shine through, and that is how you achieve success. I have loved everything I’ve done.”
See how Nasser went from AAUW programs to the floor of the United Nations:
“It’s an exciting time to be in a leadership position at the U.N.,” says Melissa Guardaro, AAUW’s volunteer U.N. representative. “Now it’s time for youth to find their voice and speak their own truth. Nasser’s role in engaging youth and communicating their positions will help shape the global agenda.”
With a strong network and the right leadership development, women can go wherever they dream. You can make sure AAUW’s campus leadership opportunities and global programs help more young women reach their potential.
This story was written for the 2015 AAUW annual report by Beth Pearsall.