Over the past few years, the University of Potsdam has awarded nearly 300 University-scholarships to committed and high-performing students. But who are these scholarship holders and what does it mean to be sponsored? Every month, one scholarship holder is presented here.
Alexander Biederstädt is a scholarship holder of the Evanglische Schulstiftung in der EKBO. Yet the path to teacher training wasn't always so clear because of financial concerns. Now he is not only realizing his dream of being a sports and geography teacher in the future. Thanks to the scholarship, he can also get involved in the board of his sports club and introduce children to the joy of competitive wrestling.
Hello, my name is Alex and I am studying geography and sports at the University of Potsdam to become a teacher. As you might have guessed, sports are a big part of my life and so I play the competitive sport wrestling in my free time. I compete in tournaments and in the regional league for the 1st Luckenwalde Sports Club. Thanks to the support of the Evangelische Schulstiftung (Protestant School Foundation), I am now able to serve on the club's board of directors in addition to my career in sports and coaching. The aim is to create or maintain a place for children and young people, especially in times of pandemic, where they can enjoy exercise and find a balance to everyday life.
However, the path to university was not always so clear. Due to financial concerns, I first started an apprenticeship in 2018, which I then dropped out of after a year. I now wanted to pursue the dream of becoming a teacher after all and started my studies. Now I am in the 4th semester of the bachelor's degree and the final thesis is being planned in order to be able to switch to the master's degree. The scholarship helps me to better structure and manage the double burden of sports and university life.
What do painting acrylic pictures and mathematical puzzles have in common? Both passions can be combined very well in the "IT Systems Engineering" course of study, thinks Elena Gensch. The recipient of the Potsdam University Scholarship discovered her love for drawing as well as systematic mathematical work already in kindergarten and school. Today, in addition to her studies, Elena is committed to making happiness and success less dependent on social background. To this end, she has founded a branch of the "Studenten bilden Schüler e.V." association in Potsdam. The university scholarship Potsdam of the sponsor Volkswagen AG helped her to find like-minded people and support for this project, among others.
I painted my first acrylic painting as part of an art project in kindergarten. Since then, painting and drawing have been an important part of my life, and last fall I additionally discovered photography. On the other hand, I was able to pursue my enthusiasm for systematic, mathematical work at MINT competitions and summer academies. It was during one such event that my interest in the 'IT Systems Engineering' degree program was piqued. Since I believe that solving an algorithmic problem requires both creativity and enthusiasm for brain teasers, I think this is the chance to combine my inclination for art and mathematics. And what could be better than turning passion into a profession?
Again, I am aware that in today's world hardly any area of life can do without the use of information systems. However, the effects of the digital transformation are accompanied by a growing lack of transparency. Algorithmic processes can hardly be seen from the outside, which is why I want to understand and help shape the digital world. My studies offer me outstanding opportunities for this.
In our society, however, the chance of happiness and success is still strongly influenced by one's background and social status. In the COVID-19 pandemic, inequalities in education have become even more acute. That is why, last September, I decided to establish a chapter of the Studenten bilden Schüler e.V. association. Studenten bilden Schüler is a nationwide nonprofit initiative represented in more than 40 university towns. Its goal is to contribute to educational equity by providing free tutoring and recreational activities for socially disadvantaged children and young people through students. Many children from educationally disadvantaged families need role models, and this is all the more true at a time when the stress in families is increasing, as it is now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the university scholarship, I had the opportunity to meet other motivated students and found support for the site foundation. We have grown together as a team over the past year and are excited to see so much progress. The placement of tutors and the support of students is now running smoothly. I also support a student via the tutoring platform and it gives me a lot to make a young person's everyday life a little easier.
I really enjoy the lively exchange at the scholarship holders' regulars' tables: because the focus is not only on specialist lectures and shared interaction, but also on how we can help each other in our studies and with voluntary projects. I would like to thank my sponsors very much for the opportunities that the Deutschlandstipendium opens up for me!
Regular hackathons have enriched Joana's life ever since she jumped into the cold coding water at "jugendhackt" with only a few Java skills. That was many years ago. Today, she is a master's student in computer science at the Hasso Plattner Institute. She has remained loyal to the hackathons - as a tutor, but also as a participant, as they not only help building skills beyond her studies, such as image processing, through other programming events, but she also learns soft skills such as pitching and networking at hackathons. The Potsdam University Scholarship from sponsor Volkswagen AG allows her to pursue her passion without financial worries.
The coolest thing about computer science for me has always been the learning experiences. Seeing your code run in a new language, technology, or problem for the first time is a rewarding feeling. Consequently, facing new challenges has always been fun for me. That's why I threw myself in at the deep end at "jugendhackt," a hackathon for young people, many years ago - with just a few Java skills under my belt. But what you could or couldn't do didn't matter much: with our newfound friend and helper Club Mate, we coded through the next two days and nights while we taught ourselves website programming with database connectivity together as a group. The atmosphere was great, previously unknown people became friends, and when our website was finally up and running, fists were raised in jubilation. After that I came repeatedly to the next events, until finally my computer science studies at the Hasso Plattner Institute started.
Now, because of my age, I occasionally tutor at "jugendhackt" to pass on my positive experiences. However, completely new hackathons have opened up for me, of which there are a great number in Berlin and the surrounding area. For example, in the midst of exercises, lectures, and exams, I made snake skeletons explorable in virtual reality or tinkered with a seat display for public transportation using sensors. In my last hackathon, "Coding Da Vinci Niedersachsen," which is characterized by its duration of several weeks and the use of open cultural data, I also learned about image processing. From nearly 1500 historical seal images, all of which are in varying condition and contain a lot of excess wax, I extracted the motifs using OpenCV. The finished project, which converts the extracted motifs into fabricatable 3D models for decorating the letters yourself, can be found at www.fabseal.de.
I hardly came into contact with many of the topics in my bachelor's degree, which is why the hackathons are an excellent way for me to broaden my horizons. Especially soft-skill competencies, such as successful pitching or building connections, can be learned in practice. Now that I've arrived at my master's, I definitely want to deepen these skills.
I was only able to take the time for all the projects thanks to the Deutschlandstipendium. Many thanks to all sponsors and organizers for giving me the chance to live out my passion without financial worries.
Pia is fascinated by the interaction between society and space - people and the environment. In the course of her geography studies, she discovered that these topics are increasingly influenced by digitalization: Cities are now smart cities, e-tickets are used to get from A to B, car-sharing vehicles are tracked, and data is collected and then visualized in the form of maps.
Reason enough, then, to pursue a bachelor's degree in computational science after her bachelor's degree in geography. The scholarship in cooperation with Volkswagen AG will enable her to study digital sharing services in more detail as part of her studies.
„Before I started studying Computer Science / Computational Science in winter 2019, I completed a Bachelor's degree in Geography. Geography is often about the interactions between society and space - between humans and the environment. And it is precisely these topics that have fascinated me ever since. In addition to geopolitical topics, I have focused on "urban spaces" through field trips to Central America and Ghana, as well as some student research. The reason? We live in an ever faster and increasingly digitalizing world where new concepts are constantly being developed.
I wrote my final thesis on the Lebanese capital Beirut, where spatial developments can be seen that reflect the international trend of urban development. (Digital) infrastructure is increasingly being created for social groups that can afford and use it. As a result, cities are becoming smart cities, e-tickets are used to get from A to B, available car-sharing cars are tracked, and data is collected and subsequently visualized in the form of all maps. And that's exactly where the interface between geography and computer science is. My main interest is not only where and how these services are used, but especially whom they serve.
The Computer Science / Computational Science program not only provides me with the technical knowledge that brings me one step closer to my desire for a more equitable city. Rather, it has also provided me with a completely new experience of learning and studying because of the mathematical and theoretical foundations. In this way, the scholarship in cooperation with Volksagen AG is a great support. Furthermore, I am already looking forward to further insights into the work of digital services such as "WeShare" or "MOIA". "
After working as a cook for several years, Charlene Arendt decided to study inclusive education at the University of Potsdam. Even though it meant a big change for her, she does not regret taking this step. Her internship semester at a school for children with autism spectrum disorders showed her that many of these children do not always receive sufficient understanding from their peers. Her goal is to be able to provide and convey just such understanding. Together with the Evangelische Schulstiftung in the EKBO, the UP is supporting Charlene in the final stage of her studies with a university scholarship so that she can focus on her master's thesis alongside her extracurricular activities.
"After graduating from high school, I completed an apprenticeship as cook. With the support of my instructor, I successfully participated in several cooking competitions, where I gained valuable experience. But after a few years, the daily grind of the profession overcame me. Unlike some of my colleagues, I was not willing to invest all my time in working in the kitchen. And so I decided to make a big change and applied to study teaching at the University of Potsdam. Even after my first internship, I couldn't wait to gain more experience. In addition to my bachelor's degree, I got the opportunity to work as a student assistant on Inga Gebel's DiPa project (Differenzierter Problemlösekompetenzaufbau). A short time later I worked as a substitute teacher at a school in Berlin Reinickendorf. There I met a student whose fate moved me very much. The boy, who had fled from Romania only a year earlier, exhibited aggressive behavior for which his peers had no understanding.
At that time, I had already learned in my studies that every behavior has a reason. Therefore, I offered my help to the mother beyond the end of my work. Now the boy lives with his younger sister in a facility for inpatient child and youth care, where I have been volunteering since they moved in. At least once a week I visit the children to learn with them, to cook, to go on excursions or simply to be there for them. Last summer, I also went on vacation with the boy. The gratitude of the children is priceless and has shown me that helping others is very rewarding.
Looking for another experience and challenge at the same time, I completed my internship semester at a school for children with autism spectrum disorder. Here, too, I got to know children who do not always receive sufficient understanding from their fellow human beings.
Giving them this understanding gives me so much joy that I am still working at this school after my internship semester.
The scholarship, which is financed proportionally by the Evangelische Schulstiftung in the EKBO, gives me the time to continue supporting the children in the youth welfare service in the future and still concentrate on the last stage of my studies, my master's thesis. It also gives me the opportunity to further develop my interests, strengths and experience."
Jan Lemcke wants to face the challenges of digitalization incl. the social, economic and political effects. An important step for Jan is therefore to acquire the necessary methods and tools as part of his double degree program at the University of Potsdam in order to contribute to mastering the digital transformation in the future. Jan founded his own IT company, is a tutor at the Chair of Machine Learning, and in his free time he is involved as a handball coach. In his pursuit, Jan has been supported by SAP SE since October 2020 as part of the Potsdam University Scholarship.
„What do the founders of Ecosia and Tesla have in common? They are pioneers in the most diverse manifestations of digital transformation and, as great role models, inspired me to complete a double degree in the bachelor's programs "Computer Science/Computational Science" and "Business Informatics" at the University of Potsdam. In the course of my studies, I focused on intelligent data analysis and, in collaboration with the company Bosch.IO GmbH, I worked on the environmentally relevant problem of forecasting the power consumption of production facilities using machine learning methods as part of my bachelor's thesis. With this, I would like to contribute a part to the imperative change towards a sustainable economy.
Entrepreneurship was a module of my bachelor course "Business Informatics" at the University of Potsdam. I put it into practice in the fall of 2020 by founding my own IT company. The business and legal knowledge I gained during my studies helped me a lot to cope with the challenges of founding a company. It is always personally exciting for me to get in touch with customers and get to know their expectations as well as their life situation.
My great interest is working with young people. As a long-time tutor at the Chair of Machine Learning at the University of Potsdam, I enjoy teaching students. In addition to my studies, I volunteer at a handball club and have coached young refugees as part of the "Integration through Sport" project, which has become known throughout Berlin. Currently, I am a handball coach of a youth team in the club SG Hermsdorf-Waidmannslust. Furthermore, it is also important to promote the digital transformation within the handball club. In my spare time, I am developing a club website application that serves as an information point for parents, players and fans as well as intuitively and efficiently mapping the club's essential business processes, e.g. master data management.
Due to the multitude of my activities, I am very happy to receive support from the university scholarship. The professional and personal exchange with my fellow scholarship holders and with my sponsor SAP SE is an absolute enrichment for my educational and life path."
Julia Nauen is convinced that biochemical and molecular biological methods can be used to react quickly and safely to human-induced environmental damage. Therefore, she wants to make a positive contribution to environmental protection with the knowledge she gains through her studies at the University of Potsdam. The university scholarship supports her in this endeavor and keeps her financially afloat.
"Biochemistry and molecular biology" sounds very abstract to many people at first, but basically it is simply the study of processes and mechanisms that take place in living things. - How does our body work? How do plants supply us with oxygen and nutrients? - In my bachelor's degree in biology, I quickly focused on the study of plants and still find it exciting in my master's degree how processes take place in the organisms that form the basis of our lives. After my bachelor's degree, I traveled for 3 months to Malaysia and Sumatra (Indonesia), countries with rainforests and an animal and plant diversity that Europeans probably can't imagine. As is well known, this is being destroyed to achieve economic progress. I am not the only one who is saddened by this. Because not only diversity in the sense of biodiversity is lost, but also the basis of our and next lives: oxygen and nutrients.
I am convinced that biochemical and molecular biological methods can be used to react quickly and safely to human-induced environmental damage. Soils and waters are contaminated with heavy metals and fertilizers, droughts are coming due to emitted greenhouse gases, and we will not have seen the last of heat waves this year. Crop losses will be the result. Genetic engineering and resulting genetically modified organisms can provide an alternative to mitigate human-caused problems currently facing our planet. But it is not only the earth that can be helped to regenerate; humans can also be helped by deliberately making crops more nutritious and resistant so that, as the world's population continues to grow, even the last one will be fed. Most crops have already been genetically mixed up in many ways through breeding and no longer correspond to natural variants: why not intervene in a targeted manner instead of randomly mixing up genetic material? I believe that the failures of mankind are reversible and that biochemical and molecular biological methods can be used to set an example and change the situation for the better. Therefore, I am happy to be able to study this course without financial problems and with full commitment, and I would like to thank my sponsors from the Lions Club Potsdam-Sanssouci for making it possible."
This is Reemi Mukherjee. She moved from India to Germany in 2018 and is now studying for the Master's degree in Data Science. Since the beginning of her studies she has been supported by the Potsdam University Scholarship and the regional company Veinland.
„Data Science is a perfect blend between statistical knowledge and implementing it in real life with the help of programming. It was an honour to be chosen for this scholarship! My course is hectic and there comes the important role of Universitätsstipendium Potsdam. It helped me balance my studies with financial need. Because of the scholarship, I didn't ever have to compromise with my study hours! This scholarship has motivated me to study hard and has been a very strong support since 2018. Also, I cannot thank enough the scholarship especially in the time of pandemic, it gave an assurance of financial security. Not only that, this scholarship has made me overcome financial difficulties many times in the past as well. The best part of the scholarship: I think the best part of this scholarship is the way it has organized sponsors-scholars meet up! We are given an opportunity to meet our sponsors and interact with them, and the assistance we always get from organizers are very appreciable! My Sponsor is Veinland GmbH. I want to thank my sponsor and University of Potsdam for giving me this amazing opportunity. Regarding my future goal: I have been working on very interesting projects in my Masters and I am on my way to start my master's thesis. After my masters I wish to work in a research institute and wish to apply my studies in some innovative project."
"Whether in the capital or Potsdam, everywhere there is a cry for digitalization and digital transformation! It is often unclear what exactly is meant by this: a new business model, process optimization or "only" self-optimization?" These and many other questions, as well as a good deal of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, led Julia to start her Master's degree in "Business Informatics and Digital Transformation" in September last year and to get her own picture of tomorrow's society.
"The interdisciplinary course of study manages to combine several apparently non-subject domains in a playful way and to consider them equally under social, economic and technical aspects. If you want to apply your logical thinking and programming skills in a scientifically versatile context, I can absolutely recommend this course of studies. For me, it forms the basis for numerous projects and seminar papers which I can implement during my studies at the University of Potsdam. This results in exciting qualitative and quantitative research work on topics such as "Open Source & Sustainability" but also very practical work with development boards and prototypes on the topic of "Smart City". The German scholarship not only relieves me financially, but also helps me to concentrate fully on my studies, my research work and my work at CityLAB Berlin. I'm not yet at the end of my knowledge journey, but I can already hold on to it now: Funding formats such as the Germany Scholarship provide the perfect basis for successfully overcoming hurdles in education and life. Because: they create space for intellectual freedom. I would like to thank my private sponsor and the federal government for this opportunity."
Sophie Domres studies International Relations at UP and works for the United Nations while studying. In 2019, she and a fellow student founded her heart project: "neitherBluenorPink". With it she fights for women's empowerment free of hierarchies and inequalities. Since October 2019, Sophie has been supported by the Dr. Hermann Schmitt-Vockenhausen Foundation as part of the Potsdam University Scholarship.
"After I returned from Mexico in 2013, it was clear to me in which direction my path should lead. I want to make the world a little bit better. I want to give something back! With my mother and my two sisters I grew up in a working class family in the small town of Fröndenberg (in the Ruhrpott). From there I went to Kleve, Santiago de Chile, Berlin and New York to realize my goals and dreams. On my way I not only got to know many countries and cultures, but also valuable people, who accompany me on my journey until today. I founded my heart project "neitherBluenorPink" in 2019 with a fellow student. I would like to actively participate in the fight for equality, because equality is not an option, but a right! Since 2017 it is possible for me to volunteer at "UN in the classroom". For me, it is especially important that young people, despite the lack of a focus on human rights in the core curriculum, come into contact with this topic. After all, a person can only stand up for his or her rights if he or she knows them! I am currently working for the United Nations from home. Due to the current situation and the effects of the Corona virus I had to leave New York and from now on I had to work in the home office. I am convinced that the UN is especially important in this situation, because it is committed to solidarity among states and societies and is an objective and not politicized source of information! The cohesion and solidarity among people that I can observe at this time is something I would also like to see in the post-crisis period. I have the hope that people will grow in this situation and that the world will one day become a more peaceful place".
Elias Krössin has been studying in the master's programme "Applied Cultural Studies and Cultural Semiotics" since October 2018 and is currently completing his compulsory internship in the cultural department of the Goethe-Institut in Tokyo. In addition to his studies, he works as a student assistant at the human rights organization Reporters Without Borders and is currently setting up a new scholarship program together with his project manager, which offers media workers from war and crisis zones the opportunity to work independently, at least for a short time, and to receive further training in digital security issues.
"Shortly after my arrival in Tokyo at the end of February, the Corona pandemic reached Europe with incredible speed and force. Japan, on the other hand, seems to have been spared an oversized wave of infections so far. Although schools have been closed and major events cancelled here as well, daily life has otherwise remained largely the same. It is difficult to assess whether the small number of infected people so far is due to the relatively few tests carried out. Due to increasing border closures and flight cancellations, the number of commercial flights to Germany is rapidly decreasing. If and when I have to cancel my internship, I cannot really estimate at the moment. We are informed almost daily by the German embassy about the latest developments and are instructed accordingly.
Now for me: I fortunately had the opportunity to gain practical experience in international cultural work for a year as early as 2016/2017, after my semester abroad in China, because the culture-wide programme of the German UNESCO Commission sent me to the cultural department of the Goethe-Institut Bangalore in India at that time. There I was able to experience at first hand how art and cultural projects take up, process or even set in motion current social processes and thus represent the expression of a mature civil society. My master's degree gives me the opportunity to broaden my analytical and methodological skills with regard to current cultural dynamics and to deepen my semiotically oriented cultural studies knowledge. What I particularly like about the Master's program is the close interlocking of theory and practice, because we always venture directly into projects in practice in the second step, based on our theoretical considerations. For example, 11 fellow students* and I had the opportunity to independently develop an interactive mediation concept for last year's bauhaus imaginista exhibition in cooperation with the House of World Cultures, and to use it to take over the HKW for one day while it was open to the public. With this large-scale project, for which I was particularly involved in the content conception, we were able to double the number of visitors last year and to put together a very exciting day with about 250 participants. The German scholarship has given me the financial freedom over the past three semesters to pursue my master's degree successfully and in a focused manner, as well as to fully carry out my work at Reporters Without Borders."
Hatim Shehata is studying the joint master's program in "International Relations" at the Free University of Berlin, the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Potsdam. His career to date has taken him to various countries for study visits and internships, including Belgium, France, Canada and the USA. Hatim plans to continue to work in the international political context in the future. In addition to his studies, he is trying to give children and young people an understanding of the European Union and how it works.
"What I find particularly inspiring about studying International Relations is the constant topicality of the issues we are confronted with as students. World events are subject to dynamic change, and so the discipline has to find adequate solutions quickly to challenges of global dimensions. Through my studies I have come to realize that it is an extremely difficult but at the same time incredibly exciting undertaking to fully understand the complexity of a globalized world. This is why I have set myself priorities: the EU's relations with the Middle East, security policy and peace and conflict research. At the same time, the University of Potsdam offers the unique opportunity to deepen your knowledge of the United Nations in terms of its administration, legitimacy and, ultimately, effectiveness. I would like to thank the University of Potsdam and my sponsors from the Dr. Hermann Schmitt-Vockenhausen Foundation for their support within the framework of the Germany Scholarship. This enables me to concentrate fully on my studies, to network with other committed students and to orientate myself professionally".
Jonathan Janetzki, IT-Systems Engineering
Jonathan is studying IT Systems Engineering at the Hasso Plattner Institute. Since 2018, he has been supported in achieving his educational goals by Volkswagen AG as part of the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship. In the future, he aims to complete internships at international tech companies and then found an IT startup.
"What fascinates me about my studies is the interdisciplinary view of computer science. In addition to the technical core competencies, linguistic, business, legal and also intercultural knowledge is taught here. My specialty is database optimization, which I dealt with in my master's project at the chair of Prof. Plattner. Design Thinking is my second, complementary focus of studies. In the Basic and Advanced Track of the HPI D-School, this innovation approach is applied in multidisciplinary teams to solve real, economic problems. Together with the screw manufacturer Kamax, we have developed user-friendly ways to increase knowledge sharing among its employees. To do this, for example, I led a workshop with people from several levels of the hierarchy: from the screw press operator to the production manager."
Iuliia Mozhina, born in Moscow in 2001, has been studying Computational Linguistics at the University of Potsdam since the winter semester 2018/19 and has been supported by the German scholarship since then. The idea of living and studying in another country never left Iuliia. Because of her fascination for the German language and culture, Germany was considered a dream country for her. At the age of 16, Iuliia decided to leave Russia and move to Germany alone to study at a German university. Besides her studies, she works as a volunteer in an association and is involved as a camp leader or language mediator in a language work camp for young people from abroad. It makes her happy to be able to observe the linguistic progress of the young people.
„I think Computational Linguistics are very interesting and diverse, because it not only deals with linguistics, but also with computer science and mathematics. This enables me to acquire skills from a wide range of disciplines. I find the machine translation and creation of automatic dialogue systems particularly exciting. Although this course of study is quite new and completely unknown to most people, there is more and more talk of artificial intelligence. Therefore I am convinced that this interdisciplinary science will be in great demand in the near future. When I was accepted as a German scholarship holder, I thought that all my efforts and achievements so far have been worthwhile. The scholarship helps me to overcome my financial difficulties, motivates me to study hard and to be socially involved alongside my studies. In addition to the financial support, the German scholarship enables me to establish contact with my sponsor, Volkswagen AG. It is a great honour for me to be a scholarship holder and I would like to thank my sponsor very much for this opportunity!"