Emma Nalan, third-year Food Technology student. In addition to the annual Teacher of the Year award, a Student of the Year (SOTY) prize has been given for the first time. Emma won based on her grades, evaluations by her teachers and her attitude to her studies. Last Wednesday, the jury handed over the prize: a crate of De Klok beer.
Emma was rather surprised when told she had won. ‘Wow! I really hadn’t expected it! After all, I only just scraped through the first year and my grades are pretty middling.’ That is precisely what made her such a good candidate, says Barnold Echt, Dean of Education and chair of the jury.
Sometimes she hands assignments in late, but then she is honest about it
‘The pressure to perform is driving many students to distraction. The combination of a packed social life, sports twice a week, remembering to phone your parents regularly and still getting good grades is too much for them. We see a lot of students suffering from stress and burnout symptoms. It’s much better for your mental health to be just about good enough on all fronts without excelling in anything. In that respect, Nalan sets an example for all students.’
Teachers are impressed with Emma’s attitude in classes. Food Microbiology teacher Henk Kebab: ‘Emma takes notes during lectures and asks occasionally whether this is something you need to know for the exam. Sometimes she hands assignments in late, but she just says honestly it’s because she was too late starting, rather than coming up with some lame excuse like “my grandma died”. On Fridays she often looks quite hungover, and that’s fine. Sitting through a class feeling queasy is a crucial part of the student experience. Many people look back nostalgically on that later.’
Emma doesn’t know yet what she will do with the prize. ‘I’d really like to drink it all up with my housemates this evening, but perhaps I should wait until the end of the month when my bank account is almost empty.’