Speech by Larissa Valerio, on behalf of the 2017 graduates
Dear honoured guests and members of the Board, teachers, beloved family and friends here today and those watching the ceremony through WUR TV thousands of km away (hi mom!), and of course girls and king (our one and only boy in this 17th Edition).
I feel content to say a few words about the journey that we started on August 24th 2015 beginning with Team Building, anxious to know each other (the “mysterious” selected talent from all over the globe) and already working intensely, hand in hand, during that week as Team A and Team B, learning a lot about ourselves and dealing with how we should communicate to construct a weird and complicated dog trolley as part of one of the activities.
Despite our different and rich origins, educational backgrounds, age and personalities, we all shared the enthusiasm for food science and technology (a ”food geek” purity seal), as well as the drive for continuous learning. We were all also a bit crazy or most likely brave (for leaving home, our worlds, comfort zones or even jobs) for choosing this unique and challenging international educational experience powered by top universities and major huge food companies that pushed us to live, study, quickly adapt and move (just when we have found ourselves “settled”) in 4 different countries during our 1st year. And that was definitely tough, but was also always super energizing to think on the new adventures to come, as well as relieving that we were doing this together as a small, young and supportive family that had to figure out things, sometimes struggling with dates’ confirmations to start our studies in the next destination or nerve-wracking rooms’ shortage.
But we managed with life abroad and the exposure to diverse cultures, with our demanding courses, tons of assignments, presentations, meetings, our algae and mycelium Team Projects, the awful rainy or icy weather (that left us soaked or made us slip many times), the continuous train strikes or even scary kidney stones, all rewarded (I will say), by sunny days in the Swedish beach.
Without a doubt, the link between industry and academia is the heart and great value of the EMFS. Personally speaking, the 9 months combined internship and thesis project in one of the sponsoring companies was my main motivation to pick this programme and definitely one of my favourite chapters during these 2 years. Why? Because it’s a real-world and exciting experience, where you make a project truly yours, acquire multidisciplinary and project management skills, knowledge of the food business, where you develop more scientific, research, communication and networking aptitudes and are able to really be immersed in an international team work environment in today’s global and rapidly changing food industry. Plus to eat all the chocolate you can if you end up in MARS, like I did.
I just want to express one last thought that was jumping on my head after I attended early this week an interesting talk on edX and the future of open education. edX is an online massively public, free and cool learning online platform founded by Harvard and MIT (I would really recommend you to have a look). Anyway, there was a question around what would we lose if we would go too far on globalizing education through the web? I might be old fashioned and there’s still somewhat a long way to go for that, but for me it was clear that we will miss the worth of human interaction, and with that, the opportunity to meet each other, build friendships and life memories, to share many delicious international dinners, birthday celebrations, beers and ciders, travels, moments and smiles as we did.
Wish you all the best of success, translated in happiness and passion for what each of us ends up doing now that we are proudly Masters of Science. Huge congratulations!
30 June 2017
Larissa Valerio, Graduation Year: 2017, Nationality: Mexican