Student in the Spotlight: Gabriel Van Heerden

Gabriel Van Heerden is an undergraduate who’s majoring in International Business and Media Communications. In this interview, he discusses his time at Webster Leiden, his efforts to start an ambitious sports club at the university, and his plans to continue his studies at other campuses around the world.

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in South Africa. My family lives in Stellenbosch right now, which is a wine region outside of Cape Town. I lived there and in different parts of the country before I decided to come to Leiden for a new start. 

Why did you decide to enroll at Webster Leiden?

 I participated in an extreme gap year program after being a student at another university in South Africa. So I did a lot extreme sports like bungee jumping, skydiving, and scuba diving. Around that time, a friend of my father was studying at one of Webster’s Thailand campuses and I visited the university’s website. I learned it has a campus in the Netherlands so I decided to come to Europe.

What have you liked about studying at the university?

The small classes are really cool and I love that Webster has a global perspective. You’ll have, at max, a class with 30 students and there’s at least seven different nationalities. Two classes I’ve really enjoyed were taught by Professor Andreas Rambow. They were Micro and Macro Economics and he really focused on real world topics; stuff like Bitcoin and solutions for the airline industry. I’m a very active student and the classes at Webster are all about discussion and interaction instead of listening to a professor talk all the time.

You’ve also been involved in a few student organizations at Webster Leiden.

Yes, I served as the Vice President of the student government, was the Treasurer of the HGA, and helped with the football team. I also founded the sports club along with co-founding another club called GreenWeb. I have a huge passion for sports and realized there wasn’t a club for them here. My goal is to get more people of different talents and backgrounds to come together for events. I also want to make sure that the club is on its feet before I leave this summer for an internship in Berlin. Fortunately, my friend Joey has agreed to take it over and keep it going. Right now, we’ve got a football team, a volleyball team, and we’re trying to decide what else to add. It might be boxing, self defense, or more social sports like ping pong, pool, darts, or FIFA tournaments on Playstation. The sky's the limit. 

What are your plans for the future?

After finals, I’m going to Berlin for the internship, which is at an international, renewable energy company. Then I’ll be going to study in Thailand through the fall and then come back to the university’s campus in Vienna in the winter. The most important thing for me right now is to complete my double major and, during the journey, I’ll see what’s my lot. I don’t want to be the richest man, I just want to be happy. Maybe I’ll return to South Africa one day and bring some of the ideas I learned in Europe back home and help implement them.