Interview with the New WNBA UN Youth Rep, Dena Mekawi

WNBA blog: Dena Mekawi is a 23 year old living in Staten Island, New York. She is currently completing a Masters degree in publishing at Pace University.

Congratulations on becoming the UN Youth Representative. Why did you want to take on the position? What are some of your goals as UN Youth Rep.?

The reason I wanted to take on the UN youth representative position was to be a part of the change. You are able to work on projects that enhance human development, spread the word on women’s rights, empower youths through literacy & special events. The opportunities are endless, and to be able to work on them and be an influence on others is truly a blessing.

You’re also getting a Master’s degree in publishing at Pace University. How is that experience preparing you for working in the industry?

I decided to pursue my masters a few months after I graduated college. I believe the more you know, the more you’re worth.  I can’t begin to say how much this program has given me many opportunities, as well as preparing me for the real world.

Tell us about being in the Miss Arab USA pageant and how that has influenced your career choices.

While I was never a pageant-seeking girl, this one grabbed my attention because of its intended mission.  That was the main reason that encouraged me to share my experiences with the public, the hope that others would relate to me. I knew no matter the outcome, that I would leave a mark by doing so- and I did.  Growing up, I faced discrimination and stereotypes, unfortunately. The challenges that I endured of feeling left out, was unbearable.  I hated going to school, trying to fit into the “norms” of the way everyone dressed, spoke, or even looked. Today I am proud and wouldn’t want any kids growing up experiencing such misconceptions about any culture. With the tools we have today, I know we can overcome these stereotypes.

What are your career goals once you’ve completed your degree?

I want to work for a magazine publisher and later run my own PR agency. I hope to be an icon to many and a role model to those who can relate.  I always dream big, and never limit myself.

What is your favorite word? Why?

My favorite word would have to be serendipity.  It’s one of those words that sounds fun and has a deep meaning- the idea of happy accidents, or unexpected circumstances that change our life for the better. Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back.” Sometimes at the moment, you can’t understand why certain things are happening, but with patience and time they start making sense.

What are you currently reading? Any great recommendations for our members?

I currently reading Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. So far so good; it offers insight into gender dynamics and the universal struggle to achieve both independence and meaningful relationships. I think many of us can relate to this!