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Dr. Tanja Woebs – Commitment makes a difference
April 3rd, 2019
After living with her family in Asia for almost 20 years, Dr. Tanja Woebs felt like a fish out of water when she moved back to Germany in 2010: “I missed the immediate international environment that I had come to appreciate so much.” As fate would have it, she stumbled upon a vacancy at Jacobs University and applied for it. She’s been an active member of the Jacobs community ever since.
The cultural scientist, who holds a doctorate, had spent a long time in Japan and Singapore, where her three children attended international schools and private educational institutions such as Jacobs University. "The fact that they are private makes them neither better nor worse," Woebs says. "What often makes them special are the values they convey - such as tolerance, curiosity and openness to the world.”
These values have played a great role in her life: Born in Canada, Tanja Woebs grew up bilingual. Her mother is English, her father German. As a child she learned to look at the world from different perspectives, which made it easier for her to find her way around after finishing school and her studies in Germany. "You just have to be open," she says. She loves the multicultural environment at Jacobs University, and she’s not the only one: "Everyone who has ever been to our campus is enthusiastic about the atmosphere, the inspiring way young people from all over the world live and learn together. “ She advises all those interested in Jacobs University to come visit. There are plenty of opportunities since there are numerous public events organized by students.
The passionate rider has been responsible for external scholarships for about three years now. Previously, she had spent three and a half years as Coordinator at College Nordmetall, one of the colleges on the campus of Jacobs University. As a kind of hostel warden, she had taken care of the welfare of 160 young people, including comforting them when homesick, organizing medical appointments and translating letters from the authorities. The close contact to students has not only been an integral part of her work life but also a personal joy: “We have so many unique and talented young minds here on campus. Working with them is a very enriching experience for me.”
It is an important part of her job to give talented and socially committed young people the chance to study in Bremen-Grohn; especially if their families lack the financial means to cover the costs. In the entrance hall of Jacobs University’s administrative building hangs a quote by the eponym of the university, Klaus J. Jacobs: "Young or old, rich or poor, woman or man - everyone has the right to a good education." Making this right a reality is part of Tanja Woebs’ mission: "We are trying to make it possible for all students who are admitted to study at Jacobs University" says Woebs. She is involved in corporate relations and talent management and maintains contact with companies, foundations or private sponsors who provide full or partial scholarships for students. An important task since more than half of all students finance their tuition fees with the help of grants.
The motivation of the scholarship providers are diverse. Companies use scholarships to retain international talents who complete internships or write their theses with them. Foundations such as the SOS Children's Villages or the MasterCard Foundation support particularly talented students from Africa. They are convinced that Jacobs University not only provides them with a first-class education, but also with the practical knowledge to make a difference in their home countries. With their support, private donors support the unique educational approach of the international campus university. It is based on linking education in the sense of a comprehensive understanding of the world and education in the sense of profound expertise in a specific field of knowledge. By no means has every donor financed a full scholarship. Smaller donations are very welcome; they are bundled and assigned according to need and performance.
Academic performance plays an important role in the awarding of scholarships because Jacobs University wants to attract the best performers from all over the world. The points system that decides on the awarding of scholarships is as essential as the social and cultural commitment of the applicants. The students show the will to change society for the better in many ways. In 2015 they were awarded the Bremen Citizens' Prize for their comprehensive commitment
An achievement made possible by the continuous dedication of people like Tanja Woebs, who not only make sure that socially committed students can study at Jacobs University but also encourage them to be the best versions of themselves.
This article is part of the series “Faces of Jacobs”, in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors, staff members and friends of Jacobs University.