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Horses and Computers - First Year LIACS Student Wins KHMW Prize

Winning an award at the start of your studies? No problem! Lieke Vertegaal is 20 years old and a first-year Computer Science student at Leiden University. On November 29, 2021, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KHMW) awarded her a Young Talent incentive award.

You have won a KHMW Young Talent incentive award. What does that mean?

‘In addition to several graduation awards, the KHMW also offers incentive awards for a number of science studies every year. Each University nominates the best-performing first-year students per study, based on the average mark of their first year. They then receive a prize of 500 euros.’

How did you win the KHMW incentive prize?

‘I actually think I cheated a bit. I studied Applied Mathematics at TU Delft for over a year before I started Computer Science. Because of this, I already knew all the math courses at Computer Science, which gave me more time to invest in the ones that were unfamiliar to me. My goal was to get at least a 9 for all the math courses. I more than succeeded: I got a 9 or higher in almost all my courses.'

My goal was to get at least a 9 for all the math courses. I more than succeeded: I got a 9 or higher in almost all my courses.

What do you find most interesting about your studies?

‘So far, I have noticed that I still really like the math subjects, but I see myself moving more towards software development later on. I have enjoyed an internship at a software company for several months. Right now I slightly prefer front-end. However, I haven't worked much on the back-end yet, so who knows, I might end up liking it better if I delve into it further.'

What do you do next to your studies?

‘In addition to my studies, I like to sing and dance and spend time with my horse. I’m also practicing to become a horse trainer. For now, that is mostly for fun and to educate myself, but who knows, maybe one day there will be an opportunity to turn that into a (part-time) job. In springtime, I also regularly give exam training in Mathematics B at a study guidance foundation in Leiden (SSL).'

What are your ambitions?

‘I have not yet decided whether I will immediately continue with a master’s after my bachelor’s, or whether I will work for a while and possibly do a master’s later. I still have plenty of time to decide . I do think that once I start working, it will be in the direction of software development.’

The KHMW Awards on the 29th of November 2021 (Dutch)

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