Shelly Tsui, Alumna BA Arts and Culture and MA European Studies on Society, Science and Technology

Shelly Tsui did her bachelor in Arts and Culture with a specialisation in the Political Culture track (back in the day when the programme was organised along four track lines) between 2013 – 2016.

When we asked her what made her bachelor so unique, she replied: “I was drawn to two features that I think made the programme very unique: the cultural lens to studying societal issues, and the emphasis on interdisciplinarity. I was taught a variety of theories, concepts, and methods that allowed me to understand and analyse the world around me with more nuance and sensitivity.”

Shelly also pursued her master’s at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences: “Following the completion of my bachelor’s programme in 2016, I chose to stay at UM and did my master’s in European Studies in Society, Science and Technology (ESST, 2016-2017), with a specialisation in Science and Public Policy. I did not stray far from my love for political theory, and was happy to see that I could combine it with science and technology studies.”

When we asked her how she looks back on her time at FASoS, she stated: “Whenever I think back of my students days at FASoS, it was quite intense but I deliberately made it so because I was truly enjoying my time learning and being busy in ways that was rewarding to me. For some context, I did a year of business administration in Rotterdam prior to UM, and the study was, frankly, very boring. UM, and more so FASoS, had so many opportunities for me to take my learning to different levels, and I jumped at any chance that came my way. So on top of my university workload, I took as many extracurriculars as possible such as the Rhetorica Debate club, the BA honors programme, part-time research work, a student assistant position at the Centre for European Research in Maastricht…and this is not even the full list. It was certainly a busy, and I readily admit, stressful time, having to juggle so many things, but I truly have zero regrets! I learnt so many skills aside from those stemming from my studies, worked alongside senior researchers to get a better understanding my future career, and grew more confident with my abilities not just as a student, but a future researcher. But more important, I realize now that I have gotten older and wiser, than all the work I did were the life-long friends I made, and the leaps of personal growth I had during my student days.”

About her time in Maastricht, she said: “I loved living in Maastricht and when people ask why, I always say because of the city’s proximity to nature. My favourite spot has been the area around Sint Pietersberg and I enjoyed hiking around there, as well as walking around the city and admiring the architecture. Because of how busy my studies and work kept me, I didn’t want my student life outside of the classroom to equally busy so I focused on quietly recharging when I could. But with my close group of friends, I also chilled the heck out with game nights at the Shamrock and potluck dinners at each other’s places.”

Shelly told us more about her current job: “Currently, I am completing my PhD at the Eindhoven University of Technology. I started in 2018 and am based in the Philosophy and Ethics department. My research topic has veered away from that of my BA and MA studies, but still closely related as I study stakeholder engagement practices in innovation processes. My day-to-day is primarily on writing my research papers for publication, but I also taught courses for three years and even got to develop a new educational course for bachelor students. On the more exciting side of the job, I got to travel to Munich, Thessaloniki, Wroclaw, and Vienna for research meetings and conferences, and met a lot of wonderful, kind, and clever researchers.”

When we asked her how the study helped her with her current career, she said: “After my BA and MA, I felt confident about my abilities to pursue a PhD as I was taught what was expected of me. Of course, there was still a lot of learning and opportunities for improvement, but the transition from a graduate student to PhD student was not as drastic as my research skills were highly transferrable. The specific knowledge from my courses were not relevant for my PhD research, but the skills I learnt such as communicating with researchers from different disciplines, being independent and managing your time and projects, and of course, research and writing skills, helped me to manage my tasks and responsibilities. Additionally, I have to give special credit to problem-based learning. I also taught during my PhD, and knowing how to effectively engage students with the material and foster dialogue was very useful.”

Shelly is still in touch with people she met at FASoS: “I have made life-long friends from both the BA and MA, and we keep in touch quite regularly through video calls or physically meeting up. Our careers are all very diverse, so it is definitely interesting to hear stories and experiences from our respective jobs. As to FASoS staff, I heard I am remembered fondly by the teaching staff. While contact is not as regular as it is with my friends, I feel confident that if I were to email my former professors and invite them for coffee, I would be received warmly. It also does not hurt that I have expressed interest in coming back to Maastricht should a relevant position come up, and I know FASoS is quite welcoming toward receiving its alumni. Outside of my BA and MA network, I am occasionally contacted by the UM marketing team to volunteer my time for testimonials, and recently, a career day for future ESST graduates. Since I had such a positive and impactful experience at UM, I try to give back however I can as my way of expressing gratitude.”

May 2022