Date of the interview
What motivated you to study Gender and Diversity? Did you find what you were looking for?
For years, I worked as a theatre director with marginalised groups to make their stories and talents visible to the public. At a certain point, I saw that the stories told by the various groups were not isolated, but revealed larger structural problems in society. I wanted to understand the systems, the structures and the mechanisms that create and maintain inequality, so I went back to university. My motivation to go back to university was also fuelled by my experiences as a trainer and lecturer, I loved this type of work. However, I did not have a theoretical framework to back me up and I knew my work would benefit from it.
The degree program has laid a theoretical framework which I use in my work. The study course Gender and Diversity has taught me theory of different forms of oppression and what to consider whilst working on inclusion. It showed me how I can view society as a system that (re)produces structural, institutional and systematic discrimination and racism. The theory learned during the semesters has given me new perspectives and standpoints. And in doing so the degree programme, prepared me for critical thinking to be able to be vocal about it in a manner that is also considered constructive.
It means a lot to me (personally and professionally) that I have found a way to combine theoretical knowledge with lived experience and that I am able to communicate it in such a way that people can -and are willing, to listen to different perspectives. And, learn from it. I love the work that I am doing now and this is possible due to what I have learned in the degree program.
Today, you work as a Trainer and Consultant. How did you get to where you are?
Whilst studying I was very aware that having a network is pivotal in order to get jobs, so I volunteered, did my internship in a field where I wanted to work in. What also helped is that in my last year of studying, I did courses outside the university and afterwards I sometimes gave them unsolicited feedback about d&i. A couple of times this helped me acquire a freelance job. I also made use of the Career Service quit a lot, the conversations with Ms. Hans have helped me to prepare and build my own company.
Before studying Gender and Diversity, I had done another bachelor and I had prior work-experience as a trainer. However, those earlier trainings where in the field of communication and usually with theatre as the main tool. I was glad that I already had work experience, because it definitely has benefitted me. My knowledge and experience about group-dynamics, educational needs, how to develop an educational program and the fact that I am comfortable in front of a group, gave me the opportunity and confidence to start my own consultancy and theatre company whist studying.
What do you especially like about your work life?
I like that I can work on my own terms, that I can do work that I find meaningful and enjoyable.
Which qualifications and skills do you find necessary to be successful in your line of work?
I think it is necessary to have good communication skills, an understanding of group-dynamics, being able to ‘hold-space’ and stay where it is uncomfortable, being able to deal with resistance and fragility. It is pivotal to know diverse approaches and theories so you can use the one that is best fitting for the situation that occurs.
I think it is also essential to be curious and eager to learn, and always willing to improve yourself and your skills.
When I remember my time at HSRW, I think about…
...being excited to study theories, models and approaches. I think about the intense and passionate discussions we had in the classroom, I remember the awesome exhibition ‘The naked body, a question of perspective’ we organised together with Museum Kurhaus Kleve and I also think about celebratory Kaffee mit Kuchen after exams.
Looking back: Would you have done something differently?
I absolutely loved my time at HSRW. However, in our curriculum we get quite a few HR-modules, but it was not until the end of the third semester that I understood their relevance and importance to my future working-field. So if I would do something different, I would pay a little more attention in those modules.
Which accomplishment are you especially proud of?
I am proud that I made the decision to go back to college after being 10 years in the workforce. It was quite a change, challenge and totally worth it.