From the (Eu)region, for the (Eu)region

Ylana is the first of her family to go to university: “I want to become a paediatrician, so I can make a difference.”

Ylana Sour (19) from Maastricht already knew halfway through secondary school that she wanted to be a paediatrician when she grew up. “When I was three or four years old, I had a bad experience with a doctor myself. I hope that later on, when I’m a doctor, I can show that it can be done differently. That way, I want to make a difference in Limburgish healthcare.” Ylana is now in the first year of her Medicine degree. She is also the first in her family to go to university. A Stichting De Ridder Scholarship gave her the opportunity to study at university; she is the first in her family to do so.

“If you think about it, that is quite special. ‘Finally, someone will become a doctor’, proclaims my mother almost daily. I have to laugh about that.” 

Doctor in the making

Ylana started secondary school in senior general secondary education, but a teacher noticed that her marks showed greater potential. In the second year, she transferred to pre-university education. “From that moment on, I knew for sure that I wanted to go to university”, describes Ylana. “When we delved into further education options, I always landed on healthcare. I initially didn’t make the cut for the Medicine degree programme, but a week before the start of the academic year, I was offered a place. I was so happy! I don’t see myself becoming anything other than a doctor.”

Next to her studies, Ylana has already been working at a care home, Envida in Maastricht, for a year and a half now. She explains: “I work in the department for people who have a psychological disorder, in addition to dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is quite heavy sometimes, but I can leave the work behind once I go home. This job has proved to me even more that a career in healthcare suits me. I hope to be of value for the healthcare in Limburg once I complete my studies and become a doctor.”

The first at university

Ylana doesn’t often reflect on the fact that she is the first in her family to go to university. “But if you think about it, that is quite special. My parents and brother never went to university. Even uncles, aunts or cousins—I don’t know anyone who studied at university.” Her parents are definitely proud. “They always enjoy hearing about what I do.” Ylana says, smiling: “My mother proclaims almost daily: ‘My daughter will be a doctor!’. Then her eyes shine. My parents are happy that the scholarship has given me this opportunity. They also like the fact that I can study in Maastricht. I live in an apartment in Maastricht, rather close to my parents. So I see them regularly.” 

Ylana Sour2

Rather be in the background

Ylana had to get used to the transition to university at first. “But the first block went very well”, she says proudly. Ylana is still getting used to the problem-driven educational approach. “I am someone who would rather be in the background and listen to others. So, I sometimes find it difficult to take the reins and speak a lot myself. I had to conquer that hurdle in the second block in particular, but it is getting better and better. I know the PBL-education will help me to become a good doctor.” 

"If you need help, ask for it! There are always people who can help.”
Ylana Sour

Grant for first-generation students

Before Ylana began her studies, she applied for the De Ridder foundation grant as a first-generation student. “I didn’t expect to receive the grant, but I wanted to give it a try in any case.” She could almost not believe her eyes when she was awarded the grant. “I stared at my phone the whole time, like: Is this real? Then I called my mother, who was also really happy about it. I was mainly relieved. Studying is nerve-wracking enough. At least I don’t have to worry about the financial side of it now. I hope I can give something back to the region once I become a paediatrician, I want to be there for children and families here.” 

Want to study, but don't have the financial means?
Read about the UM's scholarships

Tip: don’t go it alone

What would Ylana like to share with other students? Above all, that you do not always have to go it alone. “I find it valuable to get to know people in my studies, for example. I regularly study with a group of friends. We learn a lot from one another.”

In addition, Ylana has learned to ask for help where needed. “I am scared about administering blood tests, which is certainly an obstacle in this degree programme. So, ever since the start, I mentioned that I find that nerve-wracking. Now, we are looking for solutions together within the programme. For instance, I can start practising earlier, which will soon lower the hurdle. This has shown me: if you need help, ask for it! There are always people who can help.”

Maastricht University is proud to be the most international university in the Netherlands. We are grateful for the richness and diversity provided by our international staff, students and study programmes—and the ensuing endless supply of inspiring stories. This is one of those stories. 
#FromThe(Eu)RegionForThe(Eu)Region.

Do you want to read, watch and listen to more stories? Visit our campaign page.

Read more about first-generation students

Also read

  • Students at Maastricht University can turn to the Wellbeing Team for a year round programme focused on mental and physical health. This includes a wide range of lectures and workshops on the Wellbeing Wednesdays as well as two annual Wellbeing Weeks full of activities such as the Wellbeing...

  • Studying in a language that is not your mother tongue can be challenging. That's why the Language Centre at Maastricht University is dedicated to breaking down language barriers. This centre of expertise provides tailored solutions for students facing language challenges, delivered by specialised...

  • Do you want to develop all the skills you need for a successful career? Are you looking for support to further develop your competences? Would you like to learn how to present yourself when applying for a job? UM Career Services can help you.