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University of Amsterdam (UvA) student Tirza Snoijl (29) has been announced as the winner of the Echo Award 2015, a prize for multicultural talent in higher education. Tirza has joined the network of over 300 Echo ambassadors and has earned the right to take an all-expenses-paid summer course at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Photo: Nina Schuyffel (Folia)

All Echo Award nominees were assessed on their academic performance, bridge-building and leadership skills and contributions to society. The jury unanimously agreed that the achievements of sociology student Tirza Snoijl were worthy of the prize.

According to head juror Andrée van Es, chair of the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO and former alderman of the Municipality of Amsterdam, Tirza uniquely combined her social involvement with excellent academic results and motherhood. The jury were won over by her victory over personal struggles, her clear vision for promoting diversity in higher education and her own role within it.

From New Urban Collective to thesis on homelessness

In 2011 Tirza was a co-founder of the New Urban Collective, a student organisation dedicated to young people from ethnic backgrounds. For her international Master's degree in International Migration & Social Cohesion, she travelled to Spain and Ireland with her three-year-old daughter in order to complete the necessary courses. Tirza is currently a trainer with the Salvation Army and works at the Amsterdam homeless shelter, on which she is also writing her thesis.

About the Echo Award

The Echo Award is a national incentive prize for excellent students of non-Western descent. Since 2000, it has been awarded by Echo, a non-profit organisation that strives for greater diversity in higher education and on the labour market. To be considered for an Echo Award, students most demonstrate above-average academic performance (average mark of 7.5 or above). Tirza was one of four students nominated for the award; fellow UvA student Khadija Al Mourabit (35) was also among the nominees.