Foreign students enrich the University of Stuttgart, both culturally and academically. To honor this, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD) annually funds a prize to be awarded to an outstanding foreign student.
This year, the International Office selected Noelia Margarita Loaiza Villagómez. The award winner from Ecuador is studying environmental engineering at the University of Stuttgart. In addition to her professional qualifications, she received the award for her impressive commitment to social projects within various committees at the university. As a founding member of the Department for Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Affairs, she supported the student council stuvus. Furthermore, Villagómez is also deputy student council spokesperson on the Environmental Engineering Student Council, a member of the Faculty Council, and of the Faculty 2 Student Council, and mentor for the "Intercultural mentoring program at the University of Stuttgart".
In this interview, Villagómez explains why volunteering is worth it:
Why did you choose the Environmental Engineering study program?
I always knew that I wanted to become an engineer because I like technical subjects and protecting nature is very important to me. That's why I decided to study environmental engineering.
What is the biggest difference between Ecuador and Stuttgart?
My home city Guayaquil and Stuttgart have very little in common. I come from a much larger and more dynamic city, which is always noisy and lively. In contrast, I find Stuttgart to be very quiet and peaceful.
How did you become involved in volunteering for various committees at the university?
I started volunteering because I wanted to make new friends and meet new people. Especially in my first semesters at university, I wanted to make new contacts and find ways to keep myself busy while studying. The student council was one of my first points of contact, and I quickly realized how much I enjoy being involved in committee work. Starting right from the very first event I helped with, I became more and more interested in becoming more involved and that's how I ended up taking the position as deputy student council spokesperson.
What do you enjoy about being involved in the committees?
I really enjoy organizing events and helping people and I love doing something worthwhile with my time at university. Participating in various committees has helped me overcome my shyness and allowed me to find my inner strength.
Do you have any tips for people who want to volunteer during their time at university?
I would encourage them to take the first step. I know that it can be intimidating, especially for foreign students, to go to committee meetings and events, but you should dare to get involved. There is a lot to do at the university and dedicated people are always welcome. It is important to have a specific place to start, and the student councils are perfect for this.
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