An Interview with Ivar Troost, First-Year Winner of the Academic Achievement Award
During the convocation ceremony of the Class of 2016, Ivar Troost received the very first Academic Achievement Award for a first-year student. Tabula Rasa interviewed him afterwards.
Q: Did you think about the possibility of winning the Academic Achievement Award when the AAC first announced its existence?
A: “Call me naive, but it was actually kind of a surprise. I received the invitation to attend the ceremony quite a while before the actual event, and back then I just appreciated the gesture. Then a few days before the convocation, the AAC posted a picture of the three awards to be handed out. That is when something started to dawn on me, but I shrugged of the possibility anyway. Out of 200? Really now? When arriving at the Abbey on that fateful day, Maan Leo asked me whether I knew what was going on. It was only when hearing directly from her, that it really hit me. Luckily I was not expected to speech, eh!”
Q: Do you have any recommendations for new students in terms of student life involvement?
A: “After the ceremony a small group of first-years asked me what the secret was to my success. I told them to cross their boundaries: To use known talents, tap unknown ones, and to go that extra mile to make assignments refreshing and engaging. That is, after all, what made my grades commendable.
That was my first thought, at least. But you know, after having enjoyed some time to think all this over, I realise I was dead wrong by giving this advice (sorry, guys!). It might have applied to everything I did, but certainly was not the cause of what I achieved. This cause seem to have been the result of a whole other quality entirely, and I cannot put it more bluntly then this: I just appeared to have been in the right places at the right times.
UCR is a communal university, and the key to success here is, I believe, collaboration. Everyone has their unique talents, their specialist knowledge, their passions. Only when we combine those qualities, can we be truly excellent. The core of Liberal Arts & Sciences is to be broadly schooled, and this principle does not only apply to individuals, but also to the community at large.
The fondest memories I have of last year each involve collaboration in some way or another; never were these projects completely my work. And to be honest, most of those ideas I executed were thought up by others in the first place. Newsletters I made on society’s request, when they indicated the need. The TLS grew out of an idea that was already prominent in the professor’s corridors. I was just the one to be there, at the right time and place, receptive of them, and offering to help out.
The only advice I can give you is how to respond when you already appear to be at a right time and place: Listen closely to those who might need your qualities, discuss its execution thoroughly, both beforehand and during the process, and make sure to evaluate the quality of your work afterwards. Make adjustments when people criticise you or your work (however subtle or trivial a comment may seem, make sure to keep raising your bar). And never fret to ask others to help you, especially if they exhibit that one quality you need for your current project. Even if you do not know them personally, (almost) everyone here is open to collaboration, so go for it!
All of us want to improve, and if you help others in their process, the favour will be returned. Receptiveness among members, and the resulting mutual benefits, must surely be one of the major requirements for establishing a successful community. But you should ask a sociology major after that, as they actually study these matters.
And with that philosophy in mind, we can conclude that the Academic Achievement Award was never subject to any competition. I never “won” the award, others never “lost.” It was never about being better than others. What its true purpose was, was to symbolise the effort the UCR community is constantly putting into helping others excel; in helping itself to excel. Last year it appeared you helped me the most, and for that I am eternally grateful. Really, I would like to bestow awards onto all of you. But the better way to return the favour is to keep assisting others to reach their excellence, and to accept other’s help in reaching mine. And in the process, UCR will become an ever better place to be.
In summary, my advice would be: Connect, perceive, assist, improve, excel. Good luck!”
Linda Hoeberigs, class of 2014, an Economics and Politics major from Rijswijk, the Netherlands, conducted this interview.