"Having Many Friends is Not Important, but Having the Right Ones Are," Says Wittenborg's Youngest Graduate
When 19-year old student, Illia Kupris, passed his last module this summer, he became the youngest graduate ever at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences. He will receive his diploma this Friday along with other graduates at Wittenborg's 2019 Summer Graduation Ceremony - a week before his 20th birthday.
Illia, who is from Ukraine, first arrived in Apeldoorn to start his studies in September 2016 - a shy 17-year old who upon arrival was immediately thrust into the spotlight when he was asked to do a photoshoot by Wittenborg's news team to showcase student accommodation.
Since then, he has not only gained a lot of confidence, but has also become one of the most popular students at Wittenborg, serving as a Student Ambassador and long-term member of the student organisation SWIFT. One of his jobs as a member of SWIFT was to give new students arriving every block at Wittenborg a tour of Apeldoorn. "I really got to know the city pretty well," he says.
How did he manage to finish his studies in precisely 3 years? "My parents really ingrained the habit of working hard in us and I kept to that. My motto in life is also to not change who you are for the sake of others." He did an IBA in Hospitality Management.
Because of his involvement with student organisations and making friends quickly, he was not affected so much by feelings of isolation as foreign students sometimes are in the Netherlands. "It is not so important to have lots of friends, but you should have the right kind of friends. You will find your people. Which is not to say I did not have challenging days. I mean, I left my home and my family behind, but I showed up anyway on those days and here I am today."
One of his favourite places in Apeldoorn was the coffee shop Klein Berlijn where he often met up with friends and got well acquainted with the owner. In fact, the topic of his graduation assignment was the third wave of coffee in Apeldoorn.
He has not yet decided what to do next or whether he would like to stay on in the Netherlands. For now, though, he will take a break and enjoy the summer holiday.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press