Lehigh created the world’s first UN Youth Representative Program, matching UN-accredited NGOs with high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students who serve as that NGO’s voice at the United Nations.
Our NGO partners are located around the world—Japan, India, Nigeria, Australia, and the U.S.—and they focus on a wide range of issues, including environmental sustainability, gender equality, LGBT rights, global health, and international peace, to name a few.
Youth Representatives meet with global decision makers, participate in international conferences, and moderate briefings broadcast worldwide on UN TV. Our Youth Representatives have even spoken on the floor of the General Assembly. Founded in 2008, Lehigh’s program has since been adopted as a model by the United Nations worldwide.
Current Youth Representatives
The spring 2017 Youth Representatives include 30 students, ranging from first-years to Ph.D. students, who are pursuing a wide range of majors. Youth Representatives visit the United Nations once per month, where they attend briefings, conferences and private meetings with UN officials on behalf of their NGO on topics such as the role of art in creating cultures of peace, the importance of global citizenship education to achieving the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs), and economic development across Africa.
Additionally, Youth Representatives often have the opportunity to draw attention to their organization by taking on visible roles in UN briefings and conferences. So far, Lehigh's Youth Representatives have:
- Spoken on the floor of the General Assembly as part of the 2nd Annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science conference, organized by Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite
- Moderated a UN briefing on "Young Women's Leadership and Voices at the UN" at the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
- Led and presented on CSW parallel event panels
- Attended the Secretary-General's designation of Malala as a UN Messenger of Peace
To view Lehigh's current list of Youth Representatives, click here (pdf).
Becoming a Youth Representative
Lehigh students are invited to apply to be a Youth Representative in the fall and the spring. Successful applicants meet the following criteria:
- 3.2 GPA or above
- Available to travel to the UN in New York City at least three times per semester
- Keen interest in international activities and proven ability to work independently
- Strong interpersonal/communication skills
- Under the age of 32 (per UN requirements)
The first round of review is conducted by Lehigh's Youth Representative Program Director. Finalists will be reviewed by the NGO director, who will make the final selection.
Competition for these positions is keen. There are more strong candidates than vacant positions, so students who present compelling applications can, unfortunately, be turned away. However, there are things you can do to ensure that you present the best application possible:
- Present yourself professionally in your video. Remember that this video might be all that the NGO director sees of you. Present yourself in such a way that he or she can envision you engaging with other NGO directors and UN officials at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
- Send a polished résumé. If you are concerned that your résumé might be lacking, book an appointment with Career Services.
- Tailor your application, especially your video, to the NGO. Learn all that you can about the NGO to which you are applying, and make it clear why you are the right fit for this organization.
- Chat with a current Youth Representative. They can give you insight into the program.
- Sign up for one of the weekly visits to the United Nations. Demonstrate your interest in the United Nations by becoming active in the Lehigh-United Nations partnership before you apply for a Youth Representative position.
- Familiarize yourself with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Evaluate your schedule to ensure that you are able to be at the United Nations once per month.