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BC Junior Is First US Youth Observer at UN

10/04/12
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Brooke Loughrin '14 at the United Nations last month.

By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Oct. 4, 2012

While her classmates are on campus ensconced in first-semester schedules, Brooke Loughrin ’14 has had an unprecedented opportunity to attend the United Nations General Assembly, which has drawn a panoply of world leaders including President Barack Obama.

 The Presidential Scholar and Islamic Civilizations and Societies and political science major was named as the first-ever US Youth Observer at the United Nations. Loughrin was selected — out of 730 student applicants from more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide — to the coveted inaugural position by the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) and the US Department of State.

“The US Youth Observer program represents an unprecedented investment in the future of America's youth and will help lay a solid foundation for youth engagement in international affairs for years to come,” she said earlier this week. “In today's increasingly interdependent world, it is critically important that youth be engaged in issues beyond their borders. The UN is the world's most important voice on international cooperation, and having youth represented at the UN helps ensure that the issues that most impact young people are addressed. For years, other countries have sent youth observers and delegates to the UN General Assembly, but this is the first time that the U.S. is doing so.”

Loughrin, who is reporting on her experiences via a blog on the official US Youth Observer website , attended UN events last week. She is slated to return this month to address the Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Committee, and is tentatively scheduled to visit the US State Department in December.

The high-profile events she has attended or participated in include the Social Good Summit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where she was selected by Mashable as having delivered one of the top 10 most inspirational quotes, in company with Secretary Clinton, actor Forest Whitaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof.

Other prominent events have included The Concordia Summit with former President Bill Clinton and the US Afghan Women’s Council roundtable, in which Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science Kathleen Bailey participated.

Loughrin also met one-on-one with US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of International Organizations Dr. Esther Brimmer, Special Adviser to Secretary Clinton on Global Youth Issues Zeenat Rahman, and others.

Her groundbreaking role is the result of a pilot program of the US Department of State, which seeks to empower young voices on the global stage. In addition to attending meetings, she will speak to UNA-USA Chapters around the country, advise UNA-USA on potential future youth roles at the United Nations, and share her experiences via the blog, Twitter and in discussions with the media and the general public.

At BC, she serves as editor-in-chief of Al-Noor: The Boston College Middle East and Islamic Studies Journal, and as vice president of the Boston College Iranian Culture Club, which she helped launch. Last spring, she was one of three BC students, and the only undergraduate, to be awarded a prestigious Department of State Critical Language Scholarship for intensive foreign language study abroad. Loughrin traveled to Tajikistan to study Persian and participate in cultural excursions and community activities.

An Undergraduate Research Fellow, Loughrin focuses her research on political cultures of the Middle East; comparative study of religion, civil society, and politics in the Middle East; and Iran’s social history and contemporary domestic politics and foreign relations.