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Blog Maartje - Portfolio Holder Personal Development and Education

WHY A BOARD MEMBER AT THE STUDENT UNION?

Before my board year, I was already active at a student association and had organised some activities with committees. I was busy finishing my Bachelor's degree in Technical Medicine and I was struggling with what I wanted to do when I actually got my degree; starting my masters? But which master? Travelling (abroad)? A board year?  I really didn’t know. I was interested in a lot of things and did not know which one to choose. Then I got a text from someone who invited me to one of the interest moments of the Student Union. I was immediately enthusiastic! The fact that you have the opportunity to write the policy on several topics, talk often with UT employees and students to represent their interests, and have a lot of freedom to pick up projects you think are important for the student community, made that I signed up.

What I really like about the Student Union is that all things we do, we do for our fellow students. We want them to develop themselves, to grow, to achieve More Than A Degree. Because we form the link to the students and the UT, we can see what kind of impact decisions have on students. A board year at the Student Union isn’t like any other board year, your opinion is really valued and you can make a real impact! It was really out of my comfort zone, but that was also the interesting part. I have never regretted my choice to apply since.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

When I started as a board member of Personal Development & Education in February 2021, the corona pandemic was in its full swing. Luckily, my introduction period was physically in the office, but when I really started I had to switch working from my bedroom. The first day behind my laptop in my room I thought; ‘how am I ever going to do this?’. But after a full month of introduction, you know more than you think and I realised very soon that it was my experience as a student that makes you provide opinions and insights from the student perspective that UT employees would never think of. Especially in corona times, I learned that if I noticed something which should be different or improved, I should address it to induce a movement to change or improve to really make that impact.  For example in the communication about COVID to and from students. The students perspective wasn’t always guaranteed in COVID-related decisions which affected students. This caused some frustrations because students felt like they weren’t always heard. For this reason, I joined a working group that advised the Executive Board on COVID-related matters to address issues from students and represent the students' interests.

Next to my projects and idea’s, your board year is also a lot about personal development. Everyone on the board has different talents and skills, and we focus a lot on how to work together as a team. With our board, we followed board workshops which strengthen our professional cooperation, but also made us really close as a group. Even working in COVID-times and with a switch of 4(!) board members halfway through my year! Also, a lot was focused on my own development; I made personal and professional goals, reflected on myself during board trainings and meetings with our board advisor. I learned a lot about myself and my functioning in a team and acquired a lot of skills that are useful for the rest of my (career) life.

MY NEXT STEPS!

And what will I do after my board year? Most likely, I’ll start with my masters in Technical Medicine, but I am also going to travel this summer. I am really thankful for all the experiences I had this past year. I’ve broadened my horizon and my interests, next to my study Technical Medicine. My interest in the governance of an organisation has grown, and maybe I’ll come back to it somewhere in the future. One thing I know for sure: I’ll benefit from all skills and everything I learned this past year, for the rest of my life. I really hope that all students realise the importance of activism and personal development, so they can achieve More Than A Degree. And you can be the one to help students realise it as my successor!