Yay, the UU Alumnus of the Year is a teacher!

UU-alumnus en wiskundeleraar Sabine Corazon voor de klas
UU alumnus and maths teacher Sabine Corazon teaching her class

During the Dies Natalis celebration on 26 March, it was announced that Tim Schuring is the 2023 Alumnus of the Year. He works as a geography teacher at the Bonifatius College in Utrecht. Very good news, given the huge teacher shortage in secondary education. The Faculty of Science had a wonderful candidate in the race: Sabine Corazon Oudt. She teaches mathematics, coincidentally also at the Boni. We spoke to her about her career, dreams and ambitions.

"Mathematics is beautiful, very elegant. It makes me happy to see it all come together, bringing a kind of order and peace in the world. Algebra helps me to stop fretting about the worrying state of the planet. When I told people I was studying Mathematics, they always assumed that I would become a teacher. ‘No way’, I’d tell them, ‘there are so many other options!’ After my graduation I started working for ABN AMRO on data security. Something ‘good and useful’, that was important to me, not just making a lot of money. I liked my geeky colleagues a lot but I felt no passion whatsoever for the work I did. My coworkers really found meaning in their jobs and that made me a little jealous.

I applied for a new position at the Social Impacts Bonds department, which focuses on funds for socially disadvantaged groups of people. I sort of hoped it would come to nothing, so I could stay put, with my dear colleagues. But it turned out to be even more interesting than I feared and I got the job. It was so gratifying, and the projects we worked on were wonderful. In time my colleague, who had set up the department, left the bank to start up Social Finance NL. I decided to join him on this new adventure. We started the company with four and expanded to seven in no time. This was my dream job in every way, I was so happy.

Mathematics is beautiful, very elegant. Algebra helps me to stop fretting about the worrying state of the planet.

Sabine Corazon Oudt, UU alumnus and maths teacher

When I got pregnant I fully planned to go back there after maternal leave. And then one day, taking a stroll in the sun with my husband and my newborn son, I heard myself say ‘I think I should become a Maths teacher’. Out of the blue. At first I blamed the hormones but the idea lingered on. Strangely, it felt like a calling. I just gave in to it. At Social Finance NL we did very impactful work, and I loved that. At the same time I longed to feel the impact a made, to see it happen. That’s why being a teacher appealed to me. Working with the generation of the future is the best way to have impact on how that future takes shape.

I started teaching at the Bonifatius College while getting my teacher's qualification in the meantime. The job is all I hoped for, I feel the impact of my work every single day. Teaching is fantastic, teaching Mathematics even more so. There’s only one thing I miss from my time at Social Finance NL: everything there, all we did, was ‘green’ to the core. This is not yet the case in education.

I believe sustainability should be the norm in schools. I’d like students to assume that everything is sustainable and to be slightly shocked if it isn’t. To set things in motion, I started a Sustainability Group together with three other teachers. We strive to support students with good Green ideas and initiatives, and to involve them in projects we started. In this way we want to give them a sense of ownership and let them experience that they themselves can initiate change. One of the idea they came up with is a ‘Dress Library’ for the graduation party. We have started Vegan cooking workshops and the milk in the coffee machines is now plant based. Small steps, but it’s a nice way to start the conversation.

Education is the most direct way to reach an entire generation while they’re still young. Research shows that people older than 25 tend to stick to their beliefs. It’s very hard to get them shift their views. And if they do, it’s mostly because their children show them new ways. Young people are the key to a better, sustainable world. We simply cannot afford not to guide and educate them in this. And if we’re lucky, we’ll change their parents' ways at the same time."