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A call with Nienke Jongejan about student well-being and Queen Máxima

Queen Máxima visited University of Applied Sciences Leiden last week. She spoke to students, managers and policymakers about initiatives and opportunities in the field of student well-being. We called student assistant Nienke Jongejan, who got to join one of the discussions with the Queen.

Nienke, you attended the working visit to University of Applied Sciences Leiden Wednesday 18 May by none other than our Queen Máxima. How did you score an invite?

‘Queen Máxima’s working visit was organised by MIND US, an organisation that focuses on young people’s mental health. I’m a student assistant at the University’s Well-Being Office and we were asked if someone from our department would attend the working visit. We’d have the opportunity to talk about our student well-being initiatives, such as the support groups and buddy system. One of the student assistants was allowed to go, and obviously I was interested!’

What did you talk about during the working visit?

‘I spoke to the Queen in one of her discussions. We talked about what students can do for one another. I told her that prevention is important at our university and that one way we do this is to encourage students to help one another, as a buddy, for example. The Queen was also interested in how we deal with our international students. I explained that we also have international buddies, where a Dutch student buddies up with an international student.’

Did you gain any new insights from the working visit?

‘Two students from Njord rowing club and a student from Delft University of Technology were present. It was interesting to hear about their initiatives. Njord is organising a rowing event, for example, where they will row 100 kilometres to raise money for MIND US. And the student from Delft is working on a network of student ambassadors at the municipalities of student cities and student assistants at universities. Within that network, you can find people to talk about student well-being with. By sharing our experiences, we can learn a lot about student well-being. You can’t do it all alone and together you achieve more, so it would be good to join this network.’

You’re a psychology student as well as a student assistant. What would you like to tell your colleagues about student well-being?

‘Student well-being is often seen as something big when it’s actually in the small things. It helps if a workgroup lecturer asks how a student is doing and really means it. Or if a communications officer tries to increase the visibility of resources for students. Everyone can do something.’

A call about

There is a lot happening within Leiden University. The websites are filled with news on a daily basis. In the section 'A call about' we ask one of our employees to tell us more about a relevant and topical subject within the university. The answers give you more insight into the facts, but above all give you more personal background information. You can read all about it in 'A call about'.

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