One Foot at Lehigh and One at the UN
By Becca Bednarz ’15
When he was putting on his first Boy Scout badges, Dan Coviello ’13 could hardly have imagined that his love for community service would help lead him to the United Nations.
Since then, Coviello, an environmental engineering student, has blended his interests in service and the environment on an international scale.
For the past two years, he has aided the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) with their social media coverage on International Volunteer Day. In June 2011, he became one of the first youth panelists at a UN Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Department of Public Information briefing entitled “Young People Building Partnerships and Promoting Dialogue.”
Coviello’s presentation combined his experience volunteering in activities at Lehigh with his understanding of the importance of communication and dialogue when working on a development project.
“Often times, an organization starts a project without fully understanding the needs of the community they’re working with,” he says. “They perceive that a community may have certain needs, but the reality of those needs is not always the same.”
In 2004, Lehigh became just the sixth university in the world to be recognized as an NGO by the UN Department of Public Information. The designation allows Lehigh to send students to UN conferences, private briefings by UN officials and other educational seminars held there. Lehigh students also serve as interns at any NGO office worldwide, and Lehigh hosts UN ambassadors and other delegates on campus.
Thanks to this relationship, Coviello attended the 64th annual UN NGO Conference in Bonn, Germany, in September 2011, as a Lehigh representative. There, he helped develop the conference declaration, which focused on sustainable development and volunteerism.
As a UN youth delegate, Coviello now represents Tarumitra, a youth-led environmental NGO based in India. Within this role, he has both chaired and presented at the monthly youth delegate meeting at the UN.
“For me, the most exciting thing has been meeting people from around the world who share the same ideals as I do, while being in an environment that can foster debate and discussion among those with different views,” he said.
For the past three years, Coviello has also been a student coordinator in Lehigh’s Community Service Office, where he has focused on environmental conservation and aiding underprivileged youth. He has also served on the executive board for Lehigh’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Coviello hopes to pursue a graduate degree that combines international affairs and policy design. He also hopes to have an internship with the UN and to continue his relationship with the organization even beyond that.
“I have two ideal careers: either to work for the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development as an NGO liaison, or for UNV—mainly with helping develop strategies to create and implement more successful service activities,” he says.
That’s a likely outcome. Coviello presented to the UN again on February 1, 2013, speaking about the importance of service. After all, it’s a value he lives every day.
February 5, 2013