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Youth Representatives 2021

Lidya Bekele

My name is Lidya Bekele; I am a second-year international student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, majoring in Chemical Engineering. I represent the Centre for Women Studies and Intervention (CWSI) along with two of my team partners. This NGO, located in Abuja, Nigeria, focuses on promoting gender equality by empowering women, fighting against gender-based violence, and promoting equal opportunity for both men and women. My role as a UN Youth Representative includes preparing annual reports, or parallel reports that highlight the accomplishments of CWSI, attending conferences at the UN, and also trying to find better ways to educate the campus community about the NGO's mission. Fun fact – I have been elected as the National Youth Champion by YWCA, a similar non-profit organization that focuses on gender equality.

John Blake

My name is John D. Blake, and I am from Las Vegas, Nevada. I am a second-year student double majoring in Political Science and International Relations with a minor in German. I am a UN Youth Representative for Tarumitra. Tarumitra is a student-led organization based in Patna, India that focuses on teaching students about environmental protection, climate action, and Earth-based spirituality. Recently I have been working with Tarumitra to advocate for increased efforts for the conservation of biodiversity at official UN events and to students in India.

Lana Butorovic

Lana comes from Podgorica, Montenegro, and is a sophomore majoring in Finance and Business Information Systems with a minor in Entrepreneurship. She is a Youth Rep for the American Association of University Women and is currently working on a research project for them regarding gender equity in higher education. Having only recently gotten her role (March 2020), she has yet to visit the United Nations as a Youth Rep but works diligently on contributing to AAUW's work in regards to their mission to the UN. Aside from being a Youth Rep, Lana is also a Lead TRAC Fellow, an Eco Rep, and a Project Manager for TAMID's consulting group on campus.

Jacqueline Fales


Greetings! My name is Jacqueline Fales.  I grew up in Old Tappan, New Jersey and currently attend Lehigh University as an undergraduate student. I am a Junior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Writing.  I also strive to one day become a High School teacher, so I am also enrolled in a 5-Year teaching program for secondary education focusing in English. I recently joined the Nor Luyce team, taking on the role as a UN Youth Representative and Assistant Research Intern for Nor Lucye. Nor Luyce is a three-phase mentoring program based in Gyumri, Armenia.  The program empowers underprivileged women to earn a better life for themselves.  I am an American Armenian, so this program is especially inspiring to me, given that my family once lived in Armenia (before they were forced out of their homeland due to the Genocide in 1915). I have conducted research where I learned more about how effective mentoring programs operate and I have created Bullying Surveys to assess the bullying and safety situations within the school districts of the Nor Luyce participants. I would like to continue to learn more ways to empower the women around us, and help to create new future female leaders. I would also like to continue to learn other ways in which I can make an impact upon the young women participating in the Nor Luyce program. 

Kevin Gu

I am a sophomore at Lehigh University studying Computer Engineering and Finance. I am from Pleasanton, CA. I am a Youth Representative for the Center for Public Health in Nigeria at the United Nations. As a Youth Rep, I attend relevant events and establish connections at the UN that relate to the mission and goals of CPH and help to establish an online resource base for women's health in Nigeria.

Aleksander Gulkewicz

My name is Aleksander Gulkewicz and I am from Schnecksville, PA. I am a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in Environmental Policy with a concentration in urban planning, and have previously earned a bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering. I work with the World Corrosion Organization (WCO) to identify and contact permanent missions to the UN that have corrosion issues within their borders. The goal of my work is to place these missions in contact with the WCO so that they may increase their knowledge about and ability to mitigate their corrosion issues. Overall, I hope to improve the sustainability of infrastructure throughout the world, which will benefit both the environment and the community of missions, along with contributing to the advancement of urban environmental policy and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Marissa Hastings

My name is Marissa Hastings and I am from Knoxville, Tennessee. I am a Junior at Lehigh University with a joint major in International Relations and Economics and minor in Spanish. I have been on the Lehigh Dance team for three years and am a Global Social Impact Fellow for Plastech Ventures, a team working to tackle the plastic waste problem in the Philippines and to discover sustainable and economical ways to lock-up plastic waste and empower women in Metro Manila. Also, I am a UN Youth Representative and Assistant Research Intern for Nor Luyce, a three phased mentoring program in Armenia that empowers young girls to lead self-sufficient lives and achieve their career and personal goals. I have been doing research to discover the most successful mentoring techniques and how to implement them as well as creating evaluations to assess the progress of the Nor Luyce mentees and mentors and exploring the relationships between self-efficacy, interests, and goal setting within the Nor Luyce mentoring framework. I have had the opportunity to represent the NGO and spread our goals to a variety of different platforms. I am striving to continue to educate myself and others about the pressing issues vulnerable populations face and how we can collaboratively work to determine sustainable solutions. 

Menglin Jiang

My name is Menglin Jiang and I am studying Environmental Engineering (2022). I am from Scranton, PA. but I have lived in Fujian, China for ten years before I moved to the United States. Currently, I am the UN Youth Representative for Tarumitra, an NGO based in Patna, India that promotes environmental protections. Our goal is to advocate for increased environmental protection awareness at the UN. However, the pandemic has brought everything to be virtual but we strive to spread awareness through various UN events and platforms.


Claire Kirshenbaum

My name is Claire Kirshenbaum and I am from Short Hills, New Jersey. I am double majoring in Sociology and Global Studies with a certificate in Global Citizenship. I serve as UN Youth Representative for Lehigh, with a gender equality and youth empowerment focus. My role is to advocate for these topics at the UN on behalf of the University, and advance these goals on campus.

Raina Mckoen

My name is Raina and I represent the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and I am in Lehigh's class of 2021. I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and am majoring in both International Relations and French and Francophone studies. The AAUW is a DC-based gender equality NGO, and much of its work is centered on equal pay for all. Through my position as a UN Youth Representative, I am able to attend high-level meetings and conferences where I spread the values and interests of AAUW. Additionally, I have been able to research pay gaps and collaborate with local branches of AAUW to encourage discourse and activism on gender equality at Lehigh University and the United Nations.

Keenan Overa

My name is Keenan Overa, and I’m from Drums, Pennsylvania. I’m pursing a double major in International Relations with Mandarin Chinese, and in Russian. I’ve been a Youth Representative with Augustinians International, and recently we’ve addressing the topic of education on climate change. In addition to attending conferences within the UN system and with partner organizations, we’re also working to develop educational modules to raise knowledge and awareness on the severity of climate change and what solutions the world should implement.

Emma Santini

My name is Emma Santini and I am from Westchester, New York. I am a third-year majoring in international relations and economics, with certificates in global public health and global citizenship. I currently serve as the UN Youth Representative for Caring and Living as Neighbours (CLAN), an Australia-based NGO advocating for improved quality of life among children suffering from non-communicable diseases in resource-poor settings. My work centers upon a rights-based, community development model through CLAN's Five Pillars, which encompass affordable access to medication, promotion of education, optimization of medical management, encouragement of family support networks, and reduction of financial barriers. I am grateful that through my work as a Youth Rep I am constantly strengthening my passion for international development, particularly through a global public health lens. 

Secil Sozuer

I am from Istanbul, Turkey, and I am a PhD Student in Industrial and Systems Engineering. My main research area is optimization and data analytics in healthcare systems. I am a LU/UN Youth Representative with health focus. My role is to facilitate Lehigh’s collaboration with WHO, UNICEF and other healthcare related UN agencies. I prepare monthly newsletters, attend conferences sponsored by UN, and conduct research on establishing connections between Lehigh and UN. I am passionate about creating a healthier population and a healthier planet by promoting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Michael Stevanovich

I am an International Relations Modern Language major from Detroit and currently serve as the Youth Representative for Augustinians International. The mission of Augustinians International is to bear witness at the UN, and in this spirit, I advocate for the protection of our inalienable human rights, specifically climate justice. Education is the most important advocacy tool and I am working to create “Green Education” modules to provide students across the world with the education needed to become an advocate for climate justice.

Elizabeth Sullivan

My name is Elizabeth Sullivan, and I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. I am currently pursuing a joint major in International Relations and Economics at Lehigh. I am a Youth Representative for Tarumitra, a NGO with over 300,000 members based in Patna, India and focused on ecological sensitivity and the preservation of biodiversity. As a Youth Representative, I attend UN conferences and events relevant to Tarumitra’s mission. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Tarumitra’s virtual EcoFest conference and share a message about the conservation of biodiversity.

Adrian Suarez

Adrian is from Manila, Philippines and is majoring in Theatre and minoring in Global Studies. He is a Youth Representative for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) wherein he works under Bruce Knotts, the Director of the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations. Adrian wants to explore the concepts of arts, culture and mass media as a means towards pursuing UUA’s mission in the UN. He is currently working on an event which discusses the role of comedy in pointing towards oppressive systems that exist globally that run counter to UUA’s Seven Principles. Aside from being a Youth Rep, he is a leading actor in Lehigh’s Theater Department and is an active member of the Iacocca Global Village for Future Leaders where he has consulted regarding affordable housing in Peru and civil society collaboration within the United Nations. He also has global experiences as a public health intern in Kisumu County, Kenya; as a consultant for organic farming in Germany; a data analyst for the arts & culture of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, a Global Citizen student in New Delhi, India; and as a sustainability researcher in his hometown of Metro Manila. In his free time he enjoys basketball, MMA, podcasts and stand-up comedy.