The story of Nisreen Mehho’s determination and willpower after she fled Syria as a refugee in 2014 is powerfully impressive – so much so that the alumna from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) has told her powerful story as a war survivor to Poets & Quants, which published it on World Refugee Day 2021, on Sunday 20 June. She tells of how seeking refugee status and integrating into society was difficult, and how she saw gaining a business education as a way to build for the future. She joined the Dutch-taught Parttime Master Bedrijfskunde programme at RSM to improve her language skills, and studied while taking care of her family.

Nisreen’s journey took her from Syria to RSM – and on World Refugee Day she shared her story on how she decided to escape from an environment of violence and murder to search for ‘a peaceful solution to a decent life’ in the Netherlands. She had worked for the UN as an advisor for women’s projects in Aleppo, but Nisreen says finding a job in the Netherlands was one of the most difficult things she faced. Which is why she decided to follow a master degree at a university. She was nominated for an RSM master by UAF, which provides support to refugee students and professionals in their studies and in finding suitable employment on the Dutch labour market. 

“Studying at a Dutch university is challenging, but it’s an exceptional chance to develop skills, integrate yourself and learn new things that will help you make your way in the Netherlands,” Nisreen says in the article, adding that she was determined to complete the programme because she deserved a better life.

After she graduated, Nisreen found a traineeship at Dutch employee insurance agency UWV, where she works with issues related to corporate social responsibility.

It’s likely that her story will be read by millions; Poets & Quants articles attract more than 70 million page views from all over the world and 350,000 users visit the site every month, including people aiming to study for an MBA, who will no doubt be impressed by her extraordinary determination.

SDG 16 case

Happily Nisreen’s story has a positive outcome, but the plight of refugees is one of the world’s wicked problems that are the focus of the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular, SDG 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions. The UN’s SDGs underpin RSM’s mission to be a force for positive change in the world, and one way for RSM to do that is through the education that it delivers. One of RSM’s SDG business cases explores solutions for the refugee crisis in Europe, where political decisions delay refugees’ progress. RSM’s SDG case helps students to find solutions, through co-creation, for a world that faces increasingly complex safety issues like that of Syrian refugees.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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