On Thursday, 13 October, the UvA held a special ceremony in the Aula to honour this year’s UvA scholarship recipients.
The students attending this special evening in the Aula included recipients of the Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship, the Amsterdam Merit Scholarship, the Holland Scholarship and various faculty scholarships. As Rector Karen Maex pointed out in her opening speech, nearly a hundred scholarships were awarded this year, to students from all over the world. Welcoming speeches by the Rector and Anouk Tso, Director of International Affairs, were followed by a number of speakers who all stressed the key importance of enthusiasm and an inspiring environment for academic success.
Mark Golden, professor of Condensed Matter Physics, sketched his own academic journey to Amsterdam, and gave the students some personal advice on how to shape their careers in science or industry. He reminded them that their enthusiasm and curiosity is the energy source driving themselves and science forward. He advised them to keep their eyes on the bigger picture, to learn from those around them and keep their investors enthusiastic too. ‘Amsterdam is a good place for you to begin to change a bigger place, i.e. the world.’
Mridula Shobinath, one of the Amsterdam Excellence Scholarship recipients, also shared what motivated her to get the most out of her studies. She conducted a research project on human trafficking and spoke with affected women and children in Mumbai. Listening to these stories inspired her to do something about the situation and translate the narratives into academic research. This motivation to find practical applications was a good fit with her Master’s in Social Sciences at the UvA, where a critical grounding is combined with a strong focus on fieldwork. And, referring to a disappointing grade she got in one of her first weeks here and the support she got from the people around her, she also reminded fellow students it’s all right to stumble sometimes.
As the next speaker, Ruben Nieuwenhuis from Startup Amsterdam, pointed out, startups also stumble sometimes. He explained that Startup Amsterdam tries to create a tech startup ecosystem in which they can try and fail and then try again – better. Startup Amsterdam has organised a special tour for recipients of UvA scholarships, showing them the ins and outs of growth hacking and scale ups. And it’s a two-way street: the startups are challenged by the questions the students ask.
After the talks the students the students were presented with a special pin by the Rector, before posing for group photographs and joining an informal reception in the Tettenrode library. Jacqueline Tizora, one of the scholarship recipients studying Communication Science, found the ceremony very inspiring: ‘The first weeks after you get here it’s all about hard work. But this evening really reignited the fire that brought me here in the first place.’