Webster senior Daniela Piazzi recently accepted the World Peace Award at the Celebration of Peace Dinner at the United Nations. The Nigerian Permanent Mission presented the award to the U.N. on Sept. 25, in New York City. Alicia Keys, Naomi Campbell and Gandhi’s granddaughter also accepted awards that evening.
Before Piazzi arrived at the award ceremony, she was convinced she would not get security clearance to attend the U.N. event in time as she received the invitation to attend just two weeks before. She was aware of the extensive security clearance process because she helped the Prime Minister of Aruba, Evelyn Wever-Croes, obtain her clearance to attend the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly over the summer.
Wever-Croes nominated Piazzi for the award after Piazzi spent the summer as the Prime Minister’s intern. Piazzi wrote and edited speeches, prepared conference briefs and served in the Innovation Department as one of seven members of the Aruban National Think Tank and as a partner on the Sustainable Development Goals Committee.
“The event was on a Wednesday and at 6 a.m. that day, I got an email telling me I received security clearance and a flight confirmed for 2:25 p.m.,” Piazzi said. “But I didn’t see this email until 11 a.m. Once I saw it, I bolted to get ready in time.”
Piazzi said she did her makeup on the plane, and put on her gala gown in the airport bathroom once she landed in New York, and went straight to the U.N. from there.
“I didn’t understand what I was walking in to.” Piazzi said. “The magnitude of it all. I was seated at a table next to the Nigerian king and queen mother and Gandhi’s granddaughter, Ela.”
One of the projects she managed was a two-week summer camp for 100 children, ranging from ages eight to 12. The campers learned the 17 sustainable development goals of Aruba and encouraged them to create their own ideas to improve Aruba and make the island more sustainable.
“Some of the kids came up with really innovative ideas,” Piazzi said, “like plastic-free supermarkets and adoption centers for dogs. Aruba has a problem with large populations of stray dogs in the streets. I was really impressed with what they came up with in two short weeks.”
Piazzi said she feels is passionate about youth empowerment. Her personal platform is grounded in respect for everyone and dictates that age should not be a barrier to achieve a person’s goals. She is taking this platform all the way to Japan, where she will represent Aruba in the Miss International pageant competition on Nov. 12.
“I want to lead by example,” Piazzi said. “I want to be someone who shows, through respect, that we can make the world a better place. Whether that means respecting other people, other women, cultures or races — it’s a model that everyone should live by.”
Karla Toutlian, a senior sports communication major at Webster and one of Piazzi’s closest friends said Piazzi has worked hard to prepare for the Miss International competition, and she has no doubt Piazzi will be successful. She also said she wholeheartedly believes Piazzi deserved the U.N. World Peace Award.
“She spent all summer working hard on specific projects for Aruba,” Toutlian said. “She is passionate and genuinely cares about bringing new ideas that the people of her home country will benefit from.”
Piazzi said she felt honored after receiving the award, but didn’t feel like she deserved it. She said she hopes to set an example for her country and young people around the world to know they can make a difference, regardless of their age.
“To this day, I just think it’s a big fluke,” Piazzi said. “I don’t fall in the ranks of the amazing people who also got awards and have made really big impacts in the world. I think they saw that I was young and committed to this. [The award] makes me want to live up to it, so I hope I can.”