“The year on the Board has given direction for my future”

Graduating Student Association board members

On Wednesday 29 June 2019, University College Utrecht celebrates another class of graduates at the bi-annual Commencement Ceremony. Among them is a special group of five Student Association board members. 

The University College Utrecht Student Association, UCSA in short, is an active, at times hyperactive organisation with 40 different student committees on campus. The annually elected Board members are in charge of the coordination. We had a chat with five of them, who are about to say goodbye to the College. How have they coped with the demanding combination of study and the Board, and what have they learned from their Board year? 

Let’s first do the introductions: 

From the left to the right: Max Sanders, majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience. Next to Max, Pippa Jones, also majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience. Next to Pippa, Zoë de Jonge, Psychology and Sociology. Far right, Floris Müller, Psychology and Anthropology, and in the front, Megan Chalcraft, Linguistics and – you guess it right: Psychology. Which is not to say that all University College Utrecht students major in Psychology, although it certainly is a popular choice, just like at other universities in the Netherlands. 

Now, to start with, what has the year as UCSA Board member meant for you? 

Zoë: “It has been hard work, but also a lot of fun.” (Four times a nod around the table.)

Pippa: “I found it a rollercoaster ride, while trying out many new things on the way.” (Again a full agreement by the others, and some laughter.

Max: “UCSA is important as it coordinates all student activities on campus, including allocating money to committees and events. It brings a lot of responsibility with it as well.”

Zoë: “I find it cool that students who want to organise an event, can request a budget for it. We have made quite a few very special things happen, for example the fashion show just a while ago, which was a really successful and professionally organised event.”

Megan (seriously): “The year on the Board has been my best year here. Last semester, I enjoyed my courses more than ever before. I had a lot to do, but I was very excited to make it work, as being on the UCSA Board is something special. Now that my courses are over, I miss them already.”

Floris: “We do get course compensation for being on the Board, as it demands quite a time investment indeed. We organise plenty of events ourselves too, first of all the whole intro week for new students at the beginning of the semester. For me, this has been a great opportunity to get into contact with many new people.”

Max: “We all like to socialize, but as a Board member, you sometimes have to, even if you don’t feel like it. We share tasks, of course, but often we like to stick together as well, all six of us.”

Pippa: “I enjoy studying more when I do many other things next to it as well. The Student Association work has given me insight in different perspectives, and it has added another priority to my life, next to the study programme.”

It would seem that you have to be skilled at organising, both as a Board member and in your own student life. 

Zoë: “Yes, for sure, it needs good time management skills to combine the study and the Board, and even then it can be a challenge. Personally, I like it.”

Floris: “When you take the responsibility for coordinating the student committees, you have to choose your role as a Board member very carefully.”

Zoë: “It is all about negotiating the best possible solution for many things. You always have different opinions, you can never make everyone happy.”

Pippa: “But people do appreciate what we are doing, and they say so too.”

Max: “Which is very nice, as people are often quick to criticize…”

Back to yourselves: How about your plans for the future? 

Megan: “I enjoyed the behind the scenes work, planning and managing things, running a team and doing a lot of PR. I would like to take up a job in that sector.”

Zoë: “I took up quite a few organising tasks this year, and I can very well imagine finding an organisational job after my graduation.”

Floris: “I feel this year has helped me to develop myself. I have grown a lot through this job. That has prepared me for my next step. But I will first go on exchange before graduating formally, just like Megan, Zoë and Pippa as well.”

Pippa: “Actually we are done with our study, or almost. A semester abroad is what we have time left for. I will go to the University of California, Santa Barbara. It offers good courses in my direction of study, Neuroscience.”

Max: “Only I will graduate now indeed, as I started studying half a year earlier than the others. I want to work for a year first and continue with a master’s only the year after.”

Floris: “I am heading to the University of Hong Kong.”

Megan: “I will go to Queens in Canada. After that I may want to return to Utrecht to do a master’s in Sociolinguistics, but I have another option as well, which is go back home to Switzerland and join the army.”

Zoë: “I will also do my exchange in Queens. The half year gives me time to really decide about my future.”