The ECHO Awards 2018

by Fatima Kamal.

Welcome to the first event-blog! In our Diversity@UvA Blog, we talk about our initiatives and the work we do as Chief Diversity Officer team, but we also share the seminars, conferences, lectures and other events we attend to.
This blog post will be about an event the Chief Diversity Officer and I attended to on the 20th of September. This event was the ECHO Awards.


ECHO is an Expertise Centre for Diversity Policies in the Netherlands and also a partner of the UvA. Every year they highlight the success stories of our multicultural society by organizing the ECHO Awards. The purpose of the Awards is to create visibility for students with non-western backgrounds who are not only successful in their academic performances but also in making a social impact in the society, who establish platforms, sett up programs and in creative ways try to make a social difference in their environment and institution. This emphasizes that bottom-up initiatives are very valuable in our society and institutions. We’re seeing the rise of student initiatives at the UvA as well. These initiatives come from people who themselves experience a certain struggle and problem and they turn that into an action to make a difference.

This year, as well as previous years, students of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and of Amsterdam University College (AUC) were nominated and together with the Chief Diversity Officer, we were there to support them.

The Award Ceremony

This year’s Awards was a special occasion. It was an evening where talent found its way to the beautiful living-room of Loyens & Loeff in Amsterdam. This evening was an evening where diversity was celebrated in its full glory. People from different angles, places, ages, gender, and color came together this evening and the connection people made was sensible and visible. It was an evening full of love being spread, emotions being shown, stories being shared and music being enjoyed.


The evening started with a welcome word of Bram Linnartz, the chairman of Loyens & Loeff. His words set the tone of the evening and they were inspiring and positive. He emphasized the mission of Loyens & Loeff where they want to stimulate and encourage talent, no matter what background it has, to achieve its full potential. He also ended saying: “Just like ECHO, we also believe in the strength of diversity.”

Another inspiring person to take over the stage was ECHO Ambassador Rachid el Morabiti. He shared his personal story from when he was a little boy, till he won the ECHO Awards in 2012. His core message to everyone was: “Don’t let anyone put you in any box.” A short intermission followed with the beautiful voices of 22XLOUD, a music band of three young ladies whose voices were so soft and gentle that they calmed down the nervous finalists.

Also on stage was Luis Lingstyling of Power Profiles. He transforms the passions, talents, qualities, and visions of each student in an artistic and visual profile-sketch; also known as Power Profiles. Luis made a profile sketch of all the finalists with a unique code-name, their superpowers and how they use it in life. This was an original and creative way to introduce the finalists.

The last speaker was Ingrid van Engelshoven. She is the minister of Education, Culture & Science and she was the one who handed out the Awards. First, she gave a speech about the power of habits and how the nominated students are the counterforces for gaining progress in the society.

fullsizeoutput_406f(click here for the full speech).

The Winners

In total there were 34 students nominated across the country. These are students from universities and HBO’s. Five of them are UvA students and one of them is an AUC student. In the end, there were 13 finalists, of which two UvA students and the one AUC student.

Finally, after Ingrid’s speech, the moment everyone has been waiting for; the announcement of the winners. The 13 finalists were waiting with an elevated heartbeat and nodding knees for the announcement of the four winners amongst them. There’s one winner per category; the Beta Science Award, the HBO Award, the WO award and the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax Award. 

The winners are:

Winner Beta Science Award – Leon Lan (Amsterdam University College)
Winner HBO Award – Deniz Dibooglu (Haagse Hogeschool)
Winner WO Award – Avin Ghedri (Universiteit Utrecht)
Winner Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax Award – Hasnaa Beni Driss (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

(click here for more information about the categories and for the full jury rapport)

(source: ECHO – from left to right: Hasnaa – Leon – Avin – Deniz)

We were extremely thrilled and happy to see Leon and Hasnaa win! Leon is a student at AUC, a mentor at Stichting Diversity and also has been working with Anne for quite some time at improving, stimulating and supporting diversity-issues at AUC. Hasnaa is a student at the UvA, active at the Law Faculty and founder of OVAS (Ondernemingsrecht Vereniging Amsterdamse Studenten).

The evening ended with words of thanks by Mary Tupan, the Director of ECHO. Afterward, people from the audience stood in line to congratulate the winners. A lot of hugs were given and tears of happiness were shed. It was a beautiful ending of a special evening.


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