Ibrahim Jabri: ‘You have to do what you dream of’

Algemeen Dagblad

Ibrahim Jabri has three Bachelor and three Master degrees from Erasmus School of Economics and Erasmus School of Law. With these degrees he hopes to inspire others and to show them that a lot is possible. In an interview with Dutch newspaper AD he tells his story. His advice: 'Do not sell yourself short.’

Seize your opportunities

During his first year at university, Ibrahim followed two university Bachelors, one at Erasmus School of Economics and one at TU Delft. However, this did not go smoothly. ‘It was too much. I still lived in Nieuwegein at the time and travelled around all day. It was a madhouse.’ Due to his disappointing results, he decided to stop his bachelor in Delft. ‘I said to myself: focus. I studied even harder and got eights again,' he says. With this, Ibrahim wants to say that you should not throw in the towel, but work hard for what you want and seize your opportunities. Now Ibrahim has three Bachelor and three Master degrees, and he is following two more masters. He also works in a bank and as a teacher at the university.

'We had to come home with good grades'

Ibrahim talks about his Dutch-Moroccan roots. His mother left for the Netherlands in the 1970s. Here, she married Ibrahim's father who left the family when Ibrahim was only 4 months old. The family did not have a lot of money and they lived in a neighbourhood were hanging on the streets. But Ibrahim's mother was strict. ‘I had strict times when I had to be at home. My mother didn't want us to go astray and pushed us enormously to study hard. We had to come home with good grades. She never had that chance herself and wanted us to take it to secure our future.’

Why not? 

That was sometimes very hard, Ibrahim says. At the same time, it brought him to where he is now. ‘The other day there was a vacancy for the mayor of Amsterdam. It is ridiculous, but I looked at that vacancy. And I was thinking about what I would do if I were the mayor of Amsterdam. I know I wouldn't stand a chance, but I still think: why not?’ Ibrahim hopes to inspire other young people to seize their opportunities. ‘Nobody has ever said to me that something is impossible, that I cannot achieve something. You have to do what you dream of.'

'Know your value' 

According to Ibrahim, having a foreign surname does not have to be a disadvantage. ‘Know your value. You actually have an advantage if you are fluent in two languages. And there are so many companies with a diversity policy. I only see advantages in that. You have to make use of that.’ Ibrahim hopes that young people read his story and see that there are opportunities for them too, and that they do not have to think they are disadvantaged because they have a mixed background. ‘Do not sell yourself short', is Ibrahim's advice.

More information

The full article from Algemeen Dagblad, 24 February 2021, can be downloaded above (in Dutch).