‘I am confronted with an abundance of opportunities’

| Meilani Halim

They are tireless. They are all in. Sometimes to give themselves a challenge, sometimes to get a higher grade and sometimes just because it’s fun. This series is dedicated to UT students who go the extra mile during their studies. In this episode we talked to Erik Kemp: a successful student, a board member, an active sportsman, a teaching assistant and the future president of the Student Union.

Erik Kemp (23) is a Master student of Cyber Security, in a collaborative program between the University of Twente and the Delft University of Technology. From the small town of Fijnaart in the Netherlands, Kemp came to the UT some years ago to obtain his Bachelor’s degree. Since then, he has started his Master of Cyber Security, done half a year of a Master in Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society, and has been active in multiple associations.

What are all the activities you do outside of your studies?

‘This year I was in the board of KIVI Students Twente, which is a branch of the national KIVI society, or the Royal Netherlands Society for Engineers in English. Essentially, this society is for anyone who can say they have a diploma in engineering. My role in this committee is to organize activities for engineering students and professionals; I also like to consider the long term vision of KIVI as a whole, and what role KIVI Students Twente should play in that. I also act as a delegate of KIVI Students Twente when I meet with KIVI’s general Council of Members meeting in The Hague. In 2015 I won the KIVI Technology Student of the Year award, which is actually how I came to know this association. That award was just from KIVI Students Twente, but I am working on making a nation-wide competition with the entire KIVI society.’

‘From last academic year I have also been a student assistant for the Data Visualization course and the Bachelor study of Creative Technology. This job took up around 20 hours of my time a week last year, in which I helped the lecturer piece the course together. It’s really exciting how I can help decide what the program will look like, and I have even given a lecture myself. This year in particular I reshaped the course together with the new lecturer.’

'I am passionate about creating a more sustainable mind-set at the UT'

‘Next September I will also become the president of the Student Union, where I will work to serve the interests of all students at the UT, by making sure all facilities are available and maintained to ensure they can have a wholesome student life next to their studies. I am also passionate about creating a more sustainable mind-set at the UT, which is an ongoing program in collaboration with the DesignLab with the aim to try and build something physical on campus that will meet this goal.’

‘Other than that, I am also extremely active in sports: I am focusing now primarily on obstacle running, but I am also a member of Drienerlo (futsal), Ludica (tennis), and Harambee (beach volleyball). It sounds like a lot, but for me I have to do sports – if I don’t play for a week I am miserable.’

Do you still find time to relax?

‘I relax plenty. I am also a part of an active and engaging student house on campus. Apart from having a good time together, we have in-depth discussions about what can be better on the campus or in the Netherlands – or even in the world – and who can help to change it. I have even written on my CV that I am in an active student house, as it has given me so much experience. I also read a lot of philosophy in my free time, as in the future I might find a place in politics.’

What inspired you to become so involved in extra-curricular activities?

‘I actually was not always this active; in high school I did absolutely nothing aside from sports and my studies. Then when I was doing my Bachelor’s, it all started when my roommate told me about the Science on Tour job at Pre-U, in which you do physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering experiments for children to spark their interest in science. Ever since then I have been finding out what all the possibilities are, and I am still discovering them to this day. I guess I just had to be pushed in the right direction.’

What is the reason you are so active?

‘It’s simple: I like a lot of things, and I want to be involved in what I like. There are so many things that I like that I cannot even do all of them. The things I do are for both fun and fulfilment. For example, it makes me so proud that by being a teaching assistant I can help raise the bar for the standard of education. I also feel that I have a responsibility to give something unique back that no one other than myself can give.’

How do you manage to get it all done?

‘Study more slowly. My studies are important, but a year down the line I don’t want to be done with my degree and be stuck thinking about what I’m going to do now. So I’m just taking things slow and not doing many courses to prolong the time that I am in an environment where I am confronted with an abundance of opportunities.’