Within two days, the programme was up and running. They paired first-years with senior students. “For us, the Education Centre is a second home, an incredibly nice and safe place to learn. We want first-years to feel the same”, says Emma. The programme was a great success. More than 200 senior students signed up to become a buddy, far more than were needed.

What do you guys think of the nomination?

Fleur: “We are incredibly grateful for the nomination and consider it an honour to be nominated alongside such great initiatives.”

Emma: “It is nice that that terrible event in September continues to receive attention in this way. Although education has continued, there are still students who are struggling with the events of that day.”

What motivates you?

Emma: “The shooting was really intense for everyone. That kind of situation leaves you feeling powerless. And if you can help someone with something as small as the buddy programme, it makes you feel like you’re actually doing something and have some control over the situation.”

Fleur: “I remember that it was quite a big step for me to study in a big city like Rotterdam – I’m from Den Bosch myself. The first few weeks were exciting: I didn’t know anyone, and everything was new. If I had experienced something like that, I would have felt unsafe too. I would have loved to have a buddy to show me the fun aspects of the university.”

What did you learn from this?

Fleur: “I mainly learned how willing people are to help whenever there is an opportunity to do so. We also learned a lot from Geeske (van Woerden, lecturer at the medical faculty, ed.). Without her, the project would not have got off the ground. After the shooting incident, Geeske was engaged with student welfare in every way possible. She really inspired us.”

Emma: “We are also grateful to the people who signed up for the buddy programme. They all deserve the title Student of the Year!”

Please share something no one knows about you.

Fleur: “My friends will know, but other people won’t: I really love musicals. I can sing along with many musicals that have played in the Netherlands in recent years. In musicals, you have a system of sorts. People talk until their emotional level becomes too high, and then they start singing. And when the emotions are too much to sing, they start dancing. I think those transitions are really cool.”

Emma: “I can do tattoos, and I have given my parents tattoos. I tattooed a four-leaf clover for my father and a heart for my mother. They turned out really well, if I do say so myself.”


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