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'The nomination for the VU Thesis Award made me more confident'

14 February 2023
After winning the faculty thesis prize, Regina van de Wall, student of Theology and Religious Studies, was in the race for the VU Thesis Award 2022. She just missed out, but she doesn't mind. "The nomination alone has made me more confident in my own abilities."

"Winning wasn't the ultimate goal when I wrote my bachelor's thesis ," says Regina, who is now working on her master's degree. "I did it for myself. I wanted a nice grade and a thesis that I am satisfied with, that was the most important thing. People used to not always take me seriously and thought I was stupid, so I started to doubt very much whether I was smart enough for university. If the nomination has done anything to me, it's giving me confidence in my ability to learn and perform."

Religion provides context for trauma

"I'm very proud of what I've made. My thesis A new Armenia is about the connection between the transgenerational trauma of the  Armenian genocide and the lived Christian religion of Armenians, also known as 'lived religion'. So, how does the young Dutch Armenian community organize its religion, in the face of this trauma? Religion turned out to provide a context to process trauma and it is a place where Armenians can stay in touch with their Armenian background."

"I went into my research with the expectation that I would get little response, because I come as an outsider, as a non-Armenian. But the opposite turned out to be true. I was welcomed with open arms and they wanted to talk to me. I think this is because the genocide has not yet been recognized everywhere, not even in the Netherlands. One of the respondents even thanked me for using this moment and opportunity to spread awareness about the genocide. In addition to its academic value, I think it is important that the respondents see its usefulness. In a way, this thesis is theirs, because it's about them."

Faculty support

"My biggest challenge was combining my thesis with my jobs, recovery from illness and being a student assessor. It was extremely busy. Now it is true that my jobs and the student assessorship gave me  a lot of support and encouragement. It helps a lot to be in an academic environment where people are constantly researching and can help you here and there."

"I also experienced that at the New Year's Gala. In addition to my dear friends and family, there were also many people from the faculty in the room, such as Dean Ruard Ganzevoort, Arie Zwiep and Henny van Nieuwenhuijsen. That's how I felt their support, from my colleagues who stand behind me and have confidence in me. I'm very grateful for that."  

"I would like to give a tip to students who are writing their thesis. Don't focus on winning an award, but make sure you write a piece that you are satisfied with. Make something that you can proudly put your name under. That should be your priority. I didn't win the award, but it certainly didn't feel like losing either. I now have more faith in my own abilities."