It is rare to find a more diverse and colourful graduation event than that of our master’s programme. On 2 September, 77 graduates received their master’s degrees in Public Health and International Health during a festive gathering in the Queen Maxima Hall at KIT. No less than 31 nationalities were on stage, from Pakistan to Liberia and from France to South Sudan.
Participants in the master’s programme are health professionals strongly motivated to improve the healthcare systems in their countries. For many students, it was an unprecedentedly intensive year. A year far from home and family, of hard studying, steep learning curves and the fear of not making it. But also a year of fun, friendship and many new impressions. Nigerian Seun Okonuga, who spoke on behalf of the students, said, “We got better with every assignment and supported each other. There was mutual helpfulness and solidarity, regardless of origin or professional background. The world would be a better place if more people did it like this.”
A master’s degree from KIT gives many students a kickstart, both in their home countries and internationally. Their motivation is contagious. Unlike regular university students in the Netherlands, participants in KIT’s master’s programme have years of work experience in the health sector and feel ready for their next step.
This applies to Ula Al-Sanhani, 34 years old and a project manager with a local organisation in Yemen. She has learned a lot this year, but perhaps even more importantly she has grown as a person. Her self-confidence has grown by leaps and bounds. Her colleagues in Yemen, with whom she has online meetings, also notice that her skills and confidence have increased. Younger colleagues now see her as a role model, which makes her proud.
Put theory into practice
After a year at KIT the graduates will return to the daily practices in their countries. There, the challenging mission awaits them to put theory into practice and to help improve the health of many. It’s also the moment when the second, more informal, part of the programme begins: maintaining and expanding the alumni and mentorship network. Graduates become part of a global network of active alumni they can turn to for questions and help. Moreover, they are expected to act as mentors themselves.
Dr Sharon Katai Kapambwe, currently a World Health Organization Technical Officer for Cancer in
East and Southern Africa,and a KIT alumna since 2008, said in a video message that the graduates should start mentoring others. “Pass on your knowledge! Teach others the core values of public health. Create change, generate impact”, she told the audience.
“Pass on your knowledge! Teach others the core values of public health. Create change, generate impact”Dr Sharon Kapambwe, KIT Alumni, World Health Organisation
KIT is a family
Lindy van Vliet, head of the KIT Knowledge Unit also stressed that graduates are not left alone. KIT is a family, through the alumni network and the mentorship program. “Let us know what you are doing!”, she said.
After everyone had received their diploma, the master of ceremonies, Hermen Ormel, highlighted the KIT Scholarship Fund. This fund facilitates students from all over the world to pursue a master’s degree in public or international health at KIT. Investing in a student has a multiplier effect: supporting one student means better healthcare for thousands.
KIT organises the Master in International Health (MIH) and Master of Public Health (MPH) in cooperation with the VU Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The majority of the students came from low-income countries and received an Orange Knowledge Scholarship from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, managed by Nuffic. Other students received scholarships and financial support from KIT Scholarship Fund, Joint Japan/Worldbank scholarship, employers and other funding organisations.
Recording of the graduation ceremony
Graduation Ceremony in Press
Oost-online: Kleurrijk feest bij diploma-uitreiking International Health in KIT aan de Mauritskade
Please find a few photos of the graduation below. Photos by Susan Huider – KopiSusu Photography.