St. John’s Student Named “Top 10 College Women”

Between her bubbly personality and determination, it is no wonder that Glamour Magazine named Donya Nasser one of the “Top 10 College Women” because she would be seldom without it.

Not thinking she would win, Nasser, a junior studying government and politics at St. John’s earned her spot as Glamour Magazine’s “Top 10 College Women” when she applied to the national contest in September of 2013.

“I heard about the contest through a friend who had actually been a top 10 two years prior to when I applied. I actually sent in the application like an hour before it was due because I didn’t think it was worth applying, only because it being a national contest, I didn’t think I really had a shot at it,” Nasser said.

Nasser was one of the two winners of the Glamour Magazine contest who did not come from an Ivy League university. According to Nasser, they had about 1,100 applications and they only choose 10 girls. One of the things that stood out in her application was that she founded the program, Watch. Her. Lead. in January of 2013.

Watch. Her Lead. is a lot about raising awareness on the issue that there is a lack of women of color in office.  Coming from an Iranian background, Nasser travels across the country to spread awareness about these issues. Nasser is currently in the process of making this into a non-profit organization.

“A lot of organizations out there are all about dedicating women to run for office, which I think is wonderful, but I think it is important to notice the race gap in office along with the gender gap. I’ve never had anyone that I felt that I could look up to in Congress and be like ‘oh, she comes from my background so I know that I can run for office because I have such a role model,’” Nasser explained.

Being originally from Orlando, Fla., Nasser spends long periods of time away from her family, which is her ultimate support system. However, Nasser receives a lot of support and guidance from her best friend and roommate, Collen Fonesca, who also attends St. John’s.

“She is like my sister. She has helped me with everything. She looks over all of my applications. I am the first student at St. John’s to be a Truman Scholar and I can’t imagine how many times she looked over my application and proofread it. “

Since being recognized by Glamour Magazine, Nasser has gained so much exposure unexpected in common hours. On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, Nasser will be one of the guests on the Katie Couric show speaking about her recognition by Glamour Magazine as a “Top 10 College Woman.”

“Anybody who picks up a magazine and looks through it will see my face in it. The biggest thing really is the exposure. I want to run for office and that is all good but if you really don’t have people supporting me all over than you really don’t have anything. People can look back 10 years ago online and look up that I was a top 10. I feel like people look at me in a different way. Like I am legit. This really helps to validate me.”

Nasser tries to never miss any opportunity that comes her way. This highly motivated individual, is also a youth rep for the United Nations and has interned for Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).  She is a go-getter who works incredibly hard in achieving her dreams and long-term goals. People sometimes fail to realize the sacrifice that goes into hard work like this. Nasser has had to sacrifice her social life along with a relationship with someone. However, Nasser is okay with that as long as she knows she’s doing well in the end and contributing to the greater good.

“Frankly, I spend my Saturday nights studying because I need to catch up on all the homework,” Nasser said. “My mom tells me all the time that you’ll have the rest of your life to change the world but you really need to focus on school because you will have a GPA that will last forever. All of this takes a toll.”

With all her great success, Nasser’s biggest advice to St. John’s students is to look beyond the campus. One of the best ways to contribute to your college campus is to venture out and make a name for you. Nasser has won a lot of exposure for St. John’s by venturing out and making a name for herself across the country. Now people who have never heard of St. John’s know St. John’s because a student was featured in Glamour Magazine.

“It can be so easy to be wrapped up in your college campus.  I definitely recommend people to contribute to their campus which I’ve done my share of, but if I hadn’t applied to this Glamour thing or haven’t worked so hard for Truman, now we have our first Truman scholar and that contributes to the prestige of your school and if you really care about your school, that is what you would want to do,” Nasser said.