Blue and white balloons, live music by a string quartet of the Rotterdam Student Orchesta, the decor reminded of a regular graduation ceremony, as well as the warm welcome by programme director Klaas Wassens and academic director dr. Raymond van Wijk. But all graduates were at home, following their own graduation, hosted from the studio on campus. The enthusiasm bursts forth from the screen.
Like a magic trick
One of the first speakers to address the 47 graduates was RSM alumnus Ynte Kramer, IT business partner at SThree: “The best thing is, that after a few years you can still fall back on what you learned. For example, in my work I do a lot of projects. In forging alliances, I can draw upon my graduation project about different actors and their interests.” He warmly congratulated the students that have achieved to complete their MScBA degree, next to their – often challenging – jobs.
Graduate Juri Hoedemakers highlighted various aspects of the study programme and compared the current situation to a disappearance trick, where everything they ‘used to know’, like classes on campus and a physical graduation, disappeared. But like with a magic trick: something always comes out. He managed to illustrate this with a video from the famous Dutch magician Hans Kazàn, recorded especially for the occasion. Kazàn performed a trick and encouraged the students: “Always concentrate on the stuff you do have, not on the things you’re missing out on. You have an MSc diploma and I’m wishing you all the best for the future.”
Crossing borders and moving mountains
A very special contribution was made by graduate Nisreen Mehho. She fled from Aleppo, Syria, six years ago. She was able to enter the programme with a scholarship from UAF, a Dutch fund for refugee-students.
“When I first came to RSM, I stated this education couldn’t be harder than my flight to the Netherlands. However, it was much harder. It was a beautiful experience though, I have moved mountains.” Nisreen expressed her gratitude towards UAF and Erasmus University Rotterdam for this chance. She also thanked her fellow students, stressing the importance to cherish the great experiences and valuable encounters of the past two years.
Helping companies improve
A common part of the ceremony is distinguishing the best teacher. What are traits that students appreciate? Key elements are interaction, enthusiasm and humour. These apply to one teacher in particular, who has “the ability to keep us captivated for three hours, even online”, as one of the students stated. This is Justin Jansen, professor of corporate entrepreneurship. “It’s an enormous honour to receive this prize. And yes, I do appreciate a good joke,” he admitted. “But next to that I find it important that students start changing the way they view businesses, including their own. The true value lies not just in graduating, but in being able to help companies improve.”
After a quick overview of the graduates and their thesis subjects, the Thesis of the Year was awarded. Professor emeritus Dr Hans Oppelland elucidated the criteria on which he decided that Juri Hoedemakers is the rightful owner of the prize. He was impressed by the thorough implementation of his research and taking a step further by developing a new model based on his findings. Juri was moved by the distinction. “I was never much of a writer, but I worked very hard. And I’m very thankful for all the support I got: this is really something I couldn’t have accomplished alone.” His thesis explores the reflective capacities of managers on their own works. As the icing on the cake, Juri was invited to write an article about his research for Holland Management Review.
The graduates were welcomed as new members in RSM’s alumni network through an energizing video. Finally, live from the studio on campus, a toast was made with sparkling champagne. Cheers to the graduates, may they be a force for positive change!