Celebrating a milestone: MPP Closing Ceremony 2023

UNU-MERIT Director Bartel van de Walle addressed the students in his speech at Sint Janskerk, Maastricht.

Speeches, emotions and the joy of ending an academic journey

On Thursday 15 June 2023, we celebrated our 2022-23 Master’s in Public Policy and Human Development (MPP) cohort in the annual MPP Closing Ceremony.

UNU-MERIT Director Bartel van de Walle opened the ceremony by thanking the students and their parents for entrusting UNU-MERIT with the privilege of educating this next generation of policy experts that will uphold the values of the UN.


Students of the Migration Studies specialisation, one of the MPP’s five specialised tracks.


MPP Academic Director Julieta Marotta addressed the audience in a heartfelt speech.

It was also a special occasion for our MPP Academic Programme Director Julieta Marotta, as this was her last Closing Ceremony before she hands the directorship to UNU-MERIT researcher Elaine Lebon-McGregor. Marotta said her main takeaway from her years in the role was the value of cooperation:
”In the MPP, we understand very early on that the only way to tackle complexity in societal problems is by cooperating with each other.”


Marotta praised the cohort for completing the rigorous one-year programme.

Kathleen Hopewell, the 2022-23 MPP Student Ambassador stressed the importance of celebrating every step along the way to completing the one-year master’s programme, reflecting, ”I hope that you all can see your accomplishments as proof that even when your efforts felt too insignificant to make a difference, your work was never in vain.”

MPP 2022-23 Student Ambassador Kathleen Hopewell during her speech.

As a graduate-to-be from the first cohort of the Global Governance for Development specialisation — the newest of the five specialised tracks offered by the programme — Hopewell also shared what she learned in her personal journey:

”The state of the world is something that we did not have a hand in creating but will, whether or not we like it, have a responsibility to inherit. So we must ground ourselves in the small victories and the incremental gains we make on our respective paths. We do not have the same luxury of time to be impeded by bitterness and division. We only have the time to act. And as we have been shown through this Master’s: a shifted global paradigm starts with just taking the first step.”

MPP alumnus Thomas Gardien, City Council member and Deputy Party leader of Dutch political party D66 for the city of Maastricht, delivered a speech highlighting how the MPP is equipping students to have political impact.
”The tools to understand how government works and the skills to present and represent the policy cycle and its inner workings are still used as a reference to me every day,” he said.

MPP alumnus Thomas Gardien addressed the audience.

The keynote speaker of this year was Michal Natorski, UNU-MERIT assistant professor and coordinator of the aforementioned Global Governance for Development specialisation, who encouraged students to remain curious.

The ceremony closed with a touching acknowledgement of Julieta Marotta’s years holding the directorship, followed by cheers, photos and a day of celebration for this cohort’s success!

UNU-MERIT Assistant Professor Michal Natorski stressed the importance of students remaining avid readers.


A moment of acknowledgement of the board of the MPP student association DEMOS.


”We have created a vibrant and inclusive community that has supported and uplifted one another throughout this challenging year,” said DEMOS president Olivia Lindell.






A final acknowledgement of Marotta’s tenure as academic director.


Missed out on the MPP Closing Ceremony?

Watch the recording of the event below!



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    Photos: H. Pijpers / UNU-MERIT | Maastricht University