Hassnae was nominated as Student of the Year for her dedication as a peer mentor. She mentored eight students at the beginning of this academic year, and they soon became her ‘babies’, as she calls them. One of the people who nominated her describes her as ‘a really good mentor, genuinely interested in you, eager to help you, and when she sees you, she will always have a quick chat and ask how you are doing’. Hassnae met with them once a week at the beginning of the semester alongside a tutor, and even after the mandatory tutoring sessions ended, they kept in touch.

EM WP-Student of the Year-2023-Femke Legué

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Were you surprised by your nomination?

“I knew that my colleague from the faculty council nominated me. But I didn’t know that I was nominated for being a mentor. It was a shock to hear that multiple people nominated me. I didn’t feel like that was a big part of what I did last year, and I didn’t feel like it had that much of an impact. But apparently, it did. And I was happy. I was pretty happy.”

What was your role as a mentor?

“I tried to help them out with not just the way that they should study, but also with how to combine this with other stuff. Like, how to relieve stress. I talked about my experiences and how I could lift their spirits. Being a mentor wasn’t a draining job for me – it was a fulfilling and energising role. My mentees felt like my babies and they still invite me to hang out with them.

“I’ve stayed in touch with them just by sending texts. And usually, I know when they have lessons so I check in with them in person. I also have a couple of them on Snapchat and it is an easy way to see what they’re going through because I’m on their private stories.”

Where did you learn to care for others?

“I grew up in a healthcare environment. My parents didn’t study, they didn’t go to school. But I felt the love for caring for other people in their daily life. They were both caring for my grandfather. My sister was a nurse. I saw the energy that she got from caring for other people.”

What motivates you as a mentor?

“Right now, I have a mentor, he’s a doctor in ICU, and I feel like he wants me to succeed. But I’ve never had a mentor who looks like me. Growing up in Roosendaal, for example, I went to a very white school and I was the only Moroccan girl in my year. That’s a big part of why I do things that I do.

“That’s why I volunteer as well. We teach a group of Moroccan-Dutch kids aged 11-12 soft skills. It’s not really about the teaching, it’s about being a role model. Science proves that role models are important so you can say: if she looks like me, and she can do it, then I can do it.

“I want to be the role model I didn’t have, I want people to see me and say: ‘If she’s Moroccan and she’s there right now, I can do it; she’s muslim and a woman, I can do it too.’ I try to leave just bits and pieces of being a role model everywhere.”

What has being a mentor taught you?

“One of the main things that I’ve learned is being myself. I felt like I had to choose one identity when I was in middle school. And that’s not me, I have two identities. And that’s just ethnically. I have a lot more identities, like my Islamic identity.

“When I was completely myself in front of my mentees, I think it gave them the space to also be themselves. I’ve told them before, don’t let other people be a barrier for you to be yourself, you have to do what’s good for you. We have space here to be yourself.”

The election for Student of the Year is organised by Studium Generale and Erasmus Magazine. The jury has chosen the finalists from 104 nominations. From 11 May, you can vote for one of the students. These votes are one part of the final outcome. The jury will vote again and the very last round of voting will be by the public on 31 May.

Students of the Year 2023_nominaties_nominees_AmranMahamed-SüheylUyar&TevfikÇiçek-PimdeBoon-AlexHuang-ReneedeGroot_Thanh Nguyen

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