‘Student success is not just about finishing a degree’

Student success is not just about finishing a degree, it’s also about well-being, says Communications Officer Kimberley Gerlach.

Kimberley Gerlach on her first day of work at TU Delft. (Photo: Personal collection)

“I started working at TU Delft on 1 February very shortly after finishing my studies. I studied at Leiden University where I did a master’s in Public Management & Leadership. Before that I studied International Communication Management at The Hague University, so I’ve been in the region for a while. I was born in the Netherlands, but I grew up in Spain and I came back here for my studies.

When I started looking for a job, I was struggling to figure out what would awaken a passion in me the same way that my studies and my student association activities had. I realised I had been working with students for such a long time, working on student well-being, creating communities and engaging people, why not do that as a job? Then I came across TU Delft, which is really active in student well-being, and the Study Climate Programme which is completely focussed on this. I thought it was perfect for me.

It’s an initiative started by TU Delft’s Education & Student Affairs and it’s basically an umbrella programme that incorporates initiatives from different faculties, while also starting our own. We’re trying to create a community of people that is involved with student well-being. It specifically centres on the cultural shift from the focus on study success to a focus on student success. It’s not about people finishing their degree in a certain amount of time, but it’s about creating confident people who are good at emotionally managing themselves, complete engineers that are ready to go into the world and contribute to it.

‘Student well-being is a topic that I’m passionate about’

There are a lot of projects that are happening. For example, we have a programme called Student Guidance. We research best practices on how to guide students and with that we aim to engage the people that are already doing these best practices and curate a community. We want to let people know that there are little things and big things that they can be doing to increase students’ success in general. There are a lot of people in different faculties that are already engaged with students, student life and success, but they aren’t being supported, they’re just doing this on their own. Our programme aims to facilitate for them, offering time, budget and resources. Then it’s about connecting them with people so that the small changes that are happening in the faculties can be shared in a bigger sphere which is TU Delft.

Each trimester, we organise something called Tribe Sessions, where people can get together and talk about things that they have learned or their experiences. The next one is on 3 June and it’s about Diversity and Inclusion. Since we’re creating a community it would be great for people to participate if they’re interested in this topic. In the future we hope we can create a bigger conversation, the bigger the better. And in this case, the more diverse the better.

Student well-being is a topic that I’m passionate about so that’s a great place to start. With my age and my experience I sometimes feel like I might not know enough, but I actually do in this case. I have a lot of experience in this sector. And it inspires me every time that there’s a new project. I’m very motivated and that’s the best feeling I could have in a new job.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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