Two graduates from our Master’s programme in Public Policy and Human Development (MPP) were honoured at Maastricht University’s 39th anniversary ceremony on Friday 16 January 2015. Here they share their background stories and hopes for the future.
Best Master’s thesis 2014
Lorraine Wong (MPP 2013-2014) was awarded the Student Prize for Best Master’s thesis of 2014 at the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences. For her thesis on ‘Quality of education and economic growth’ she drew from her family experiences: “I wanted to see if there is a link between quality of education and economic growth. Coming from Hong Kong, my grandparents’ generation was very poor, but Hong Kong nowadays is such a developed world. Growing up, I always found it interesting to know why there had been such a jump in economic growth. There could be many factors, such as governance, innovation or migration, but I found that one of them could be good quality of education. My research findings are that quality of education would have a positive effect on economic growth.”
PhD fellow Richard Bluhm, who co-supervised Lorraine’s thesis, praised the quality of her work: “Lorraine produced an excellent thesis in which she applied challenging econometric techniques to a question of great economic and social importance: ‘What’s the effect of the quality of education on economic growth?’ She did a lot of independent data work, confidently entered a large and complicated empirical literature while still managing to present novel results. Given Lorraine’s level of motivation and inquisitive mind, I am not surprised about the jury’s decision. It was a pleasure to teach and co-supervise her.”
Lorraine is currently doing a six-month internship at the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Her colleagues at the ILO Social Protection department include several MPP graduates. “Five other alumni from the MPP specialisation Social Protection Policy Design and Financing have also joined the department (three at the Headquarters and two in the field in Ethiopia and Laos). All of us work in different core components of the ILO’s Social Protection Floors initiative. This includes but is not limited to pension schemes in Europe, cash transfer programmes in Latin America, universal health protection, and programme assessment tools.”
Having returned to Maastricht to receive her prize, she added: “Sitting right across from the Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, at the Dies Natalis ceremony reinforced the fact that future possibilities are endless. Being in Maastricht again reminded me of the beautiful faces I met in Maastricht, and my friend Navneet’s speech at the closing ceremony that ‘the turtle only moves forward when it sticks its head out’.”
Wynand Wijnen Education Prize 2014
Catalina Goanta (MPP 2010-2011), now a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, won the Wynand Wijnen Education Prize for her “outstanding contribution to education at Maastricht University”. The jury was impressed “with her many extracurricular activities and her efforts to promote educational innovation at UM” and described her as an “exceptional teaching talent”. Among other achievements, Catalina launched a review of the first-year course, Introduction to Comparative Law, presenting innovative elements such as a moot court, a mastery learning environment, and a peer coaching platform.
Catalina keeps good memories of her Master’s programme at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance. “During my first Master’s at the Faculty of Law I became aware of PBL, but it was only when I started the MPP programme at the School of Governance that I actually understood what it meant. To this day, in the training sessions we hold for student tutors at the Faculty of Law, I mention one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had at the School of Governance: the International Economics tutorials with Prof. Thomas Ziesemer. He had such a refined and artful approach to teaching and PBL in general, that I vividly remember our tutorials to this day with a great deal of joy.”
“I am so proud to have lived the enriching experience provided by the School of Governance, that I try to convince my law students to join it for their Master’s degree. The proof that the programme really shapes our personality and career can be seen in the fact that many MPP alumni have applied their acquired knowledge in their daily lives. I am honoured to include myself in this category through the recent set-up of a foundation in the Netherlands, The Launch Foundation, aiming at collaborating on educational matters with a rugby club in Romania (Aurora Club Baicoi). The foundation was set up by Lucian Mircescu, another MPP alumnus, as a regional platform for poverty alleviation and social inclusion. What can I say? The MPP is a life-changer.”
MPP Education Director Dr. Lutz Krebs added: “The awards for Catalina and Lorraine are the perfect example why it is so enjoyable to be involved in the MPP. We are blessed with creative, motivated, hard-working students!”