Emma van Straten - My Honours programme experience

The Honours programme is an extracurricular activity for bachelor’s students in year 2 and 3 to showcase their academic skills and teamwork in a real-life project. We talked to Emma van Straten, a Health Sciences student and Honours alumna who organised an international conference on Lama2 in Barcelona. She can now proudly include this achievement in her resume.     

Policy, Evaluation and Management of Care

Emma is a soon-to-be graduate of Health Sciences, specialising in Policy, Evaluation and Management of Care, she is convinced working as a policymaker is right up her alley. Emma: “Policy is everywhere. I could work on it in the healthcare sector, but I’m also interested in social housing. Policy can sound uneventful, but it’s not. It involves conducting research and collaborating with others.” Emma chose her specialisation at the end of her first year when she also got acquainted with the Honours programme. 

Out of the lab, into the world

"When I applied for Honours, I had to provide a top three selection of their topics to work on. Most of them were biology-related, but I figured Biomedical Sciences and Medicine students could work in the lab and I could use my background in Health Sciences as an added value.” Emma selected Huntington’s disease, Lama2 and burnout in the ICU as top three projects. Eventually, she worked on the Lama2 project. 

“Our group was divided into subgroups, some worked in the lab while others organised a conference in Barcelona for researchers, clinicians, and patient groups.” 

Not only did Emma and her team organise a successful event on Lama2, she also worked on a data-sharing agreement with Prof. Smeets, project coach of their team. “Because Lama2 is such a rare disease, information is scarce. We need to share all the information available to continue with research. That’s exactly what we did at the conference. My fellow group members who worked in the lab gathered all the information that was shared and summarised it. That work resulted in a publication.” 

Honours barcelona conference

Student life 2.0

Emma feels she changed as a student after her Honours experience. “I became more proactive and learned to work together with others. My work for Health Sciences is finished quicker nowadays, with better results.” 

Emma and her team put in the work, resulting in an international conference and publication. “It was worth the effort. We ended up working on a large project, but other small-scale projects also looked really interesting. So whatever your background is, if you're enthusiastic about working on real projects with students from other programmes, apply for Honours!” 

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