“University College Utrecht taught me to look at an issue from multiple perspectives”

Frank Westhoek studied at University College Utrecht from 2012 to 2015. He majored in Physics and Chemistry and did minors in Human Geography and Modern History. A convinced Science student at the start of his study, Frank surprised himself by getting carried away with history – to such an extent that he went on to study two Master’s programmes: Sustainable Energy Technology and History of Politics and Society. Shy of his second graduation, he already has a job contract in his pocket. 

Frank, what made you choose for University College Utrecht? 

“When I was looking at bachelor programmes, I already knew that I wanted to contribute to the energy transition. For this, I needed knowledge of both the physics and technology behind renewable energy as well as of societal aspects related to the transition. No university programme covered the full scope, but the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme did, as it allows a lot of freedom in designing your own curriculum.”

Looking back, what was the biggest discovery you made here? 

“I had always liked history in secondary school, I discovered history at university was actually quite different. Rather than only being about factual knowledge and interpreting sources in the right context, history at an academic level also concerns the competing interpretations of different historians. Next to analyzing the causes of - for example - the Second World War, history at university is also concerned with analyzing differences and similarities in the analyses by multiple authored historians, and contrasting these analyses with your own, based on factual knowledge and primary sources. It turned out that I also really liked this aspect of history.”

“University College Utrecht taught me to think in an interdisciplinary way and take into account multiple perspectives on a certain issue. It gave me plenty of intercultural experience through its international composition. Furthermore, the College was great for my confidence in speaking English. I learned to foster curiosity, not to be afraid of new adventures and to appreciate working together with others who drive you to excel.”

How did your life after the College look like? 

“After graduating from the College, I was admitted to two Master’s programmes: Political History and Energy Engineering. Which other Bachelor study would have offered me these opportunities? I participated in the four-month programme Nationale DenkTank (National Thinktank), in which I did research on how to make Dutch primary and secondary school education more future-proof in a group of 24 graduates and PhD candidates. I then got a position as an intern policy officer at the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.”

“In 2016, I went on to do a Master's programme in Sustainable Energy Technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Although I enjoyed studying in Eindhoven, I missed the more societal approach to complex problems. That is why I started a second Master's at Utrecht University, History of Politics and Society. I now have finished my history Master's and I am currently writing my thesis in Sustainable Energy Technology at TenneT. After graduating, I will continue at TenneT within its International Traineeship Programme. TenneT is a Dutch-German electricity transmission system operator with a pivotal role in the energy transition. Within the programme, I will be able to develop myself further, gain additional international experience by working abroad and contribute to the energy transition on a daily basis.”

If you had to describe University College Utrecht in three words, which would those words be?

Curiosity, ambition and friendship.