In addition, Selda is president of student association Mozaik, the oldest Turkish student association in the Netherlands. As president, she is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse environment at the university. On 15 March, for instance, she organised the Grand Iftar in collaboration with other student associations, with great success. A total of 750 students from different backgrounds attended.  She and the association also provide books and school supplies to areas in Türkiye and Morocco affected by earthquakes. All her hard work earned her a nomination for Student of The Year.

How did you react when you heard you were nominated?

“Very surprised. I didn’t expect it at all. I myself had in fact been considering nominating someone else. I had forgotten about that. Suddenly, I got a call from someone congratulating me on my nomination. Apparently, a whole group of people from the association is behind it. That was really nice to hear.”

What motivates you?

When I was fourteen, I had the idea of becoming a psychologist. I would always say, and this has really become a character trait of mine, that I wanted to help people. People could share their stories with me. But if you want to study psychology, you have to go to university. I was doing prevocational secondary education. My parents were very supportive, and my brother also helped me a lot to prepare for university. My first-year diploma in applied psychology at higher professional education level was the golden ticket to go to university. Going from higher professional education to university was a very big step for me.

You can feel very lonely when you first go to university. During my bachelor’s programme, this was something I learned for myself. After all, you’re entering a different world from the one you’re used to. You see many classmates quickly learn their way around, but for first-generation students, this is not necessarily the case. In my first block, for example, I did not earn any credits because I did not yet know how to learn at a university level. I really don’t want any students to feel lonely. The university has a lot to offer, and a lot is possible, but you often don’t know that as a new arrival.

What kind of work do you do as president?

Mozaik was founded to bring different cultures together. We still do that, but I think we can do more.

Last year, there were earthquakes in Türkiye and Morocco. Our association was really a great point of contact. We organised several activities so students could get together to talk about it. We also wondered what we could offer to the children and people affected by the earthquake. The children there are already behind on their education because of the coronavirus, and now the earthquake has made that even worse. We provide books and school supplies and start libraries in the regions.

In addition, I want to help first-generation students. I often see that these students lack a network. We organised an alumni event that allowed first-generation students to interact with people who had already gone through this process. It was a success. Many students went for coffee with the alumni. The alumni we invited had also never met up since graduation, so they really enjoyed it as well.

Your nomination described you as helpful and a connector. What is something no one knows about you?

“I don’t think very many people know that I enjoy making Bob Ross paintings. I find painting truly relaxing. I started by following his videos, but now it’s completely reversed and I also come up with many ideas myself. Bob Ross is a good teacher!”

Yasmine Haggui_student of the year 2024_ SOTY2024_ candidate genomineerde_Tyna Le

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