Universiteit Leiden

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Students International Studies receive their diploma

The students received their diplomas in the historic Pieterskerk in Leiden, in front of a large audience of family and friends. With more than 1,000 people present, including more than 300 graduates, this was the largest graduation ceremony of the programme since its founding in 2012. In a nearly four hour ceremony the various regions in which the students specialised were highlighted and each student was personally congratulated with obtaining their bachelor.

Best Student

The Golden Stork award for the ‘Most Outstanding Student’, was presented by the vice-dean of the faculty, dr. Egbert Fortuin. This year, for the first time, the most outstanding student was chosen on the basis of recommendations by fellow students. Third year students were asked to nominate a colleague and indicate why he or she deserved the award, the Programme Board then chose one of the top nominees that fitted the requirements best. The vice-dean pointed out that the five nominees represent a cross section of all the qualities the programme aims to engender in its students. The most outstanding student is not just a student who strove to get the best out of him or herself in an academic sense, but someone who also has been important to fellow students, and was active both within and outside of the programme. In short someone who showed the true International Studies spirit.

He continued by praising the nominees for their motivation to get the most out of their time at the university. These students did not just stick to their curriculum, but all went “above and beyond”.  Some availed of the opportunity to do extra courses, while others actively contributed to the International Studies community or did voluntary work outside the programme. There were many outstanding students this year, but the one who embodied these elements best was Karim Schiek.  He is a hard working student with excellent marks who was always kind and helpful to his peers. Karim was the treasurer of the social committee of study association BASIS and worked for AthenaStudies, aiding other students pass courses. All this was done with enormous energy and positivism.

Best thesis

The Golden Stork Award for the ‘Best Thesis’, was awarded to Francis Farrell for his thesis Dark Knights in de facto Democracy: Elite agency, political pluralism and the “Russia factor” in unrecognised Transnistria. The Award was presented by the chair of Board of Examiners, dr. Max Bader. He noted that the jury in its deliberations in particular focused on the degree to which the theses capture the BA International Studies ‘philosophy’, including multi-disciplinarity, an awareness of the historical, cultural, political and economic context of case studies, and connecting the local and national level with the international and global level. The two other nominees for the Golden Stork Award for the ‘Best Thesis’ were Isabelle Martin and Justin Sarijoen.

Alumna Antonia Bartel

In her speech alumna and co-organizer of last year’s graduation ceremony, Antonia Bartel, emphasised the great opportunity graduates was awaiting when going out into the world and find the topics and projects that fulfill them. She had experienced that this great privilege also came with many challenges and pressures. She described both, the excitement of the new and unknown and also the stress and pressure to find one’s own way in the professional world. The lesson learned in the process was the importance of finding her own way to the future step by step, taking the time to consider all options and also not to be afraid to change one’s opinion or plan. She found that the upside to this approach was the opportunity to pursue unforeseen and unexpected ways, that you might not have even considered otherwise. She finished up congratulating this year’s class and wishing them all the best for the future. 

Commencement Speech

Dr. Simanique Moody, one of the few lecturers who have been involved in the programme from the start,  gave the Commencement speech, which consisted of a few short lessons from the school of life. In it, she reflected on her own undergraduate and postgraduate experiences in an attempt to encourage our 2018 graduates to make the most of the knowledge, skills, and personal and professional networks they have gained in International Studies as they embark on the next chapter of their life journey. She also reminded them not to be afraid of failure but to always try to learn from their mistakes. Lastly, she urged them to define and measure success on their own terms, while noting that the people who wind up being most successful in life are not always the ones who were the most gifted or talented in school, but rather, often those who believe in themselves and who persevere despite the many setbacks that come their way.

About International Studies

International Studies is a BA programme that was founded in 2012. The programme offers students the opportunity to study the issues and effects of globalisation by focusing on one of eight world regions.  Students develop expertise ranging from proficiency in one of the chosen region’s languages to an in-depth understanding of its culture, history, politics and economy. International Studies is a bachelor programme of the Faculty of Humanities, and has a high number of International students; about half of the students in this programme are from abroad.

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