Universiteit Leiden

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This is Emma, the new student ambassador Cultural Anthropology

Since the beginning of September, Emma van der Plas (20) is the new student ambassador for CADS. Emma is a third-year student and is currently following a minor in Sustainable Development in Leiden. Her goal? To eliminate the stigmas surrounding anthropology. "When I tell people I'm studying anthropology, I often get two reactions. Either: 'so you're going to be digging stuff up. Or: 'so you're never going to get a job.' I want to show that anthropology is an open, fun and liberal study that covers many different topics."

Who is Emma?

"I have a lot of different interests. That's also why I started studying anthropology in the first place. Everything I like comes together: photography, doing research, traveling, meeting new people, writing and the human aspect. One of the subjects I became interested in while studying is sustainability. That's why I am now taking the minor in Sustainable Development, to delve deeper into that. In my spare time I often go hiking and climbing. Now I still climb inside a hall. But I'd like to get my second certificate so I can go climbing outside on rocks as well."

How have your first weeks been?

"I've only just started, so the real work has yet to begin. Right now, it's mostly arranging things, taking pictures and familiarizing myself. The first school visits are scheduled for November. I am looking forward to that, especially to see people in person again instead of online. Soon I will be working on my presentation for the Open Day. I am looking forward to working with Andrew Littlejohn on that presentation. I really like his classes, it's because of his course that I started doing this sustainability minor."

What do you want to convey as an ambassador?

"When I tell people I'm studying anthropology, I often get two reactions. Either: oh you're going to excavate things. Or: so you're never going to find a job. I want to get rid of the wrong stigmas that surround anthropology and show that it is a very fun, open and free study. There are so many different subjects to discuss and there are so many paths you can take with the knowledge you develop here. I would like to pass on to students that it is a study that matters and that it is not a small or cute study. I also see within my minor how much you can do with knowledge about sustainability. Anthropology offers qualitative research and people skills. You can accomplish so much with that within an area of study. That's really valuable." 

Do you already know what you want to do after your bachelor's?

Probably a master's. I'm still debating between the Visual Ethnography master's of anthropology and the research master's in Africa. Last year the latter option was mentioned, with the possibility of researching in Ghana for six months. That subject really appealed to me and also that master. But I don't know yet. I have always said I would like to present things and do journalistic work. But since studying anthropology I am also interested in research. I also think sustainability is very cool - so who knows, after a master's I might do a PhD. I'm open to everything, so I'm very curious what it will be."

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