Life after graduation

Foto van Sisi Chen die schuin achter een trap staat met haar armen voor zich.
Image: Robin Alysha Clemens

I want to see the impact of my work

Sisi Chen knew from an early age that she wanted to work in education. Even in primary school she read to pre-schoolers and realised that she had to do something in this kind of field. The need to take a broader perspective and the drive to keep on learning prompted Sisi to follow an academic degree programme. She is now applying her love of theory and practice by combining two jobs: developing learning materials and teaching.

By the end of this year I want to be able to dance on pointe

Portretafbeelding van Sisi Chen
Sisi Chen

Two jobs at the same time can’t be easy?
Yes, it wasn’t easy finding the right balance but I seem to have found it now. If opportunities come my way, I grab them with both hands. That’s just how I am. Don’t think too much about things. You can always make changes at a later stage. It’s probably something to do with my background. My parents both come from a rural area in China. They haven’t had a lot of opportunities.


Is your interest in the impact of socio-economic status on pupils related to this?
Yes, I think so. If you yourself have a different ethnic background, you are likely to be curious about the impact that that background has on your experiences and relationships. My supervisor gave me the tip of including socioeconomic status as the theme of my research for my master’s thesis. For my thesis I then researched whether and, if so, how socio-economic status affects social relationships in class. It seems that children with a high socio-economic status are perceived to be more appealing than children with a lower status. Clearly that’s pretty shocking. We have to do something about it.

What's next ...?

I want to help children find their place in society. But I also want to ensure that they enjoy school and learning. I’m also going to pursue an initiative that I started last year with a friend and former fellow student. She works in Spain and we have set up an English-speaking collaboration project between our primary schools. The pupils are really enthusiastic about it. In terms of my private life, I plan to spend a bit more time on my hobbies. By the end of the year I want to be able to dance on pointe and to get back to playing the piano and painting again. I neglected those things a bit during my studies.

Portretafbeelding van Sisi Chen

Sisi Chen (24) graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Utrecht University under the Academic Teacher-Training Programme for Primary Education in 2021. In 2022 she completed her Master’s in Educational Sciences. In September 2023 she won the Vliegenthart Thesis Award for the thesis that she wrote for this. Since 2022 Sisi has been working part-time as a teacher at WereldKidz primary school in Veenendaal. Since the beginning of 2023 she has also been a part-time developer of learning materials at educational publisher Delubas.

A longer version of this article has been published on DUB, Utrecht University’s independent news site, featuring an interview with Mari Pitkänen. Visit their website for all the latest news and background information on our academic community.