4 September 2019

“How you study is more important than what you study”

Arts and Sciences graduate Judith Maas is deputy ambassador in Mexico. She looks back on her time at Maastricht University as an intense period in which she learnt to view the world with an open mind, think about problems in groups and analyse them from all angles. “Above all,” she says, “choose a study programme you’re passionate about.”

judith maas en familie

Your own triple 0

In 2017 Maas and her partner, now with four children in tow, moved to Mexico. There, she serves as deputy head of mission. “I’m the second ‘man’. I stand in for the ambassador – also a woman, by the way – when she’s not there. I also lead a team focused on economic diplomacy and improving trade and investment relations between Mexico and the Netherlands. That’s the main part of my job. I’m also responsible for the chancellery.”

She describes Mexico as a wonderful country, rich in nature and well-preserved cultural heritage. The people are hospitable, too. Not every region is as well-governed as the next, however, and one particular (but limited) area is unsafe. “We sort of live with the idea that you’re your own ‘triple 0’, something that stays with us from Uganda. It’s unwise to get stranded in certain areas on the side of the road with a flat tyre or an empty petrol tank. You think about your safety before leaving home.”

Passion

Maas continues to reap the benefits of her student days. “I still think about and tackle problems in groups. I’m a team player; I learn a lot from interacting with my colleagues. And because I look at problems from all angles, I’m more likely than others to think outside the box.”

Her main advice for current students is to choose a study programme they’re passionate about. “As an employer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mainly looks for people who are highly motivated and curious about the world. Any degree fits with that: physics, engineering or, yes, Arts and Sciences. How you study is more important than what you study.”

By: Hans van Vinkeveen (text), Gerlinde Schrijver (photography)