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Leonoor Cornelissen

BA International Politics and History | 2013

Nationality: Dutch

Graduate School: Masters in International Development, Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland

Current Position: Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Doctors Without Borders, Mediterranean Sean
 
 

“A world of opportunities”

Leonoor works for Doctors Without Borders, currently on a Search and Rescue ship for people crossing the Mediterranean. Before that she was in the Congo and in Uganda in a camp for South Sudanese refugees. As “Humanitarian Affairs Officer” her task in Africa was, among other things, to analyze the humanitarian context of the aid organization’s local health centers.

Why would a particular ethnic group not use the services of the medical humanitarian organization? In order to find out why, Noor goes to villages to speak with the people, through for example women’s groups, local healers and community leaders. The goal is to collect information, for instance, on which health issues are important to the population and to understand their health-seeking behavior. Another part of her job is to support the contact with other actors in the region, be they government representatives or armed actors, and to advocate for better access to medical and humanitarian care.

“What I sought was exactly that: an international community that really celebrated its diversity—and that’s what I found.“

Leonoor Cornelissen

The humanitarian applied to study psychology at Jacobs University. But by mistake she attended a lecture in political science on her first day. “On the second day, I changed to international politics and history”. She has not regretted her decision.

How did Jacobs University help you reach your personal goals?

I think Jacobs helped me in reaching my goals in that it offered lots of opportunities for me professionally, and personally. I think on campus there were always clubs, there was really a sense of community in order to let me develop safely at that age in the person that I wanted to become. At the same time, professionally there were opportunities to do internships, to get financial support for internships, to do field work for my thesis research. I think it really provided a community with a lot of support in which a lot of things were possible.

What did you search for and find at Jacobs University?

Well, I came from an international boarding school at high school (United World College), and I really wanted to go back to a community like that—a community that really valued diversity. So, I was a bit hesitant to go to for example, a university in the U.S. where only 6% maybe, is international. When I found Jacobs, what I sought was exactly that: an international community that really celebrated its diversity—and that’s what I found.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I think with advice, it only really works once you’ve experienced it yourself. You can receive it, but you really only internalize it once you’ve had the experience. But if there is one thing I’d say is to—we’ve heard a lot about this term of “employability”, and my advice would be: try not to become employable. That’s not the purpose of university. The purpose is to become empathetic, and compassionate, and critical. Focus on developing those skills and not on becoming an employable person for the labor market.

 

Read more about Leonoor Cornelissen

Copyright: Doctors Without Borders

On the road for Doctors Without Borders
Noor Cornelissen is on the move. The 25-year old graduate from Jacobs University works for Doctors Without Borders, currently on a Search and Rescue ship for people crossing the Mediterranean. Before that she was in the Congo and in Uganda in a camp for South Sudanese refugees. As “Humanitarian Affairs Officer” her task in Africa was, among other things, to analyze the humanitarian context of the aid organization’s local health centers. more...