By: Melody Nguyen, Class of 2023 Millennium Fellow and Emerging Technologist
"Can any young woman make it to the United Nations?"
It's a question I have always asked myself, and the answer is a resounding yes. Any young woman can make it to the United Nations, starting with a spark of curiosity about the world around us and the confidence in herself to take action.
I'm Melody Nguyen, a sophomore at Pace University Pforzheimer Honors student currently studying Digital Marketing and Business Analytics in New York City. I have hopes to see a future where young women in underdeveloped countries have equal access to educational resources as other women in more developed countries. This vision has led me to embark on my UN Fellowship project focusing on creating open-source learning materials for students in communities disproportionately affected by economic inequalities.
My Role: Guiding the Next Generation:
I am currently leading as a UN Millennium Fellowship Campus Director, guiding a cohort of 15 Pace University Student Founders who are part of the Millennium Fellowship, a United Nations-sponsored global network of over 4,000 undergraduates pursuing careers in sustainable development.
My interest in social activism ignited during my junior year of high school when I immersed myself in my AP World History class. Learning about different cultures, the history of revolutions, historical figures, and the struggle of certain groups of people throughout history sparked the journey that led me to where I am today.
Being part of my high school Model United Nations (MUN) team, I realized economic inequality restricts young girls in the least-developed countries. Amid the 2019 pandemic, I saw the world as a bigger place than just one person or one nation where if we all come together to solve a global problem we create change. This was when I decided a platform was needed to help other women living in less ideal environments. It was amazing to see that there are so many wonderful young women and men who do care at my school. Throughout the summer, the Women Empowerment Organization was formed with a network of 50 activists working to build a social media platform to connect people and share our experiences. This was where I learned to develop video content and experienced the invaluable skills of managing the club as President.
As it happened, this experience shaped my decision to major in Marketing Analytics in college. Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory where I helped develop a website to bring awareness, accessibility, and implementation of renewable energy.
Within the Millennium Fellowship, I'm forging connections between my current work and the Santa Teresa High School’s Women Empower Organization to cultivate leadership opportunities for the next generation.
Inspiration often springs from the most unexpected places, and for me, it came from the pages of history, the clubs at my high school, and the collaborative spirit of my college campus
My Experience at the United Nations:
On September 22, 2023, I was privileged to be invited as a delegate to the United Nations SDG Action Weekend and the Brookings' 17 Rooms Session in New York City. It was an incredible experience to be recognized as a youth leader by the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) and to have the opportunity to speak among diverse global stakeholders at the U.N. SDG Pavilion
Following the U.N.’s SDG midpoint summit, we explored how the 17 Rooms approach empowers communities worldwide to take the SDGs into their own hands. While in the beautiful indoor garden, I finally got to meet mentors, Abby Canels and Noha Khalqi, who support and inspire college students advocating for sustainable development. The space filled with pride and hope as Noha spoke of MCN's mission for young activists.
As eloquently stated in the opening session by Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, "It is about leaders in every space doing what they can do to change the world, to save the planet." Her words excite and encourage me to be part of that change.
I have listened to numerous personal stories from passionate and intelligent women such as Hawaii Youth Activist Celeste Connors and U.N.’s Biodiversity Expert Di Zhang, who have shown me that any and all efforts we make are worthwhile if we can help each other in the long run. It is opportunities like these that empower students like me to take our goals to a global scale.
Discovering the Millennium Fellowship:
I connected with the Millennium Fellowship through my college campus' special program coordinator, Dr. Sue Maxam. She is the sweetest and most supportive woman I have ever spoken to. As soon as I saw “United Nations,” I couldn't resist writing my application. I'd always dreamt of witnessing first-hand how global leaders worked together. After encouragement from my caring Professor Chris Ramos, a round of applications, and an interview, I was selected as Campus Director and Emerging Technologist for my project.
My goal is to create an online learning program where teachers and students can connect remotely to share experiences.
Developing a website that offers virtual tutoring, mentorship, academic guidance, and career services for women worldwide. If you're interested in making a difference through the Women Empowerment project, consider contributing to our Educational Equity Fundraiser, where every donation directly benefits these programs. Your support would be greatly appreciated and invaluable to our cause!
Connecting with Fellow Millennium Alums:
On September 18, 2023, I had the honor to attend the United Nations General Assembly for the SDG Action Weekend. There, I had the opportunity to do an Instagram takeover, explore the UN Headquarters, and interview amazing leaders such as Africa’s People Empowering People Director, Melvine Wajiri. Guided by the question, "What is one word of encouragement you would give to aspiring young leaders?" I received immense enthusiasm with answers like taking action into our own hands, being open-minded, and utilizing the technology we have around us.
Inspiration often springs from the most unexpected places, and for me, it came from the pages of history, the clubs at my high school, and the collaborative spirit of my college campus. I've seen education and technology break barriers for young women. My experience at the SDG Action Weekend strengthened my commitment, and with the support of the Millennium Network, I look forward to inspiring positive change. Together, we can create a future where every young woman, regardless of her background, thrives with access to quality education.
Melody Nguyen is a Class of 2023 Millennium Fellow from Pace University, USA. She is also an Emerging Technologist and serves as Campus Director of her Fellowship cohort. Connect with her on LinkedIn.