"I want to foster a sense of belonging and make people feel at home at the university"

Portrait photo of employee Alex Huang at Woudestein campus.

Being a queer migrant from Taiwan, Alex Huang felt like he didn’t fit in right away at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His experiences motivated him to help others with similar experiences. That’s why he immediately applied when he saw a position for a Student Diversity Officer. For his efforts, Alex was nominated for the 'Student of the Year' award. After graduating, he decided to stay at the university to continue working on diversity and inclusion.

Fitting in

"When I arrived at the university, I felt different from the other EUR students. In class and social settings, I was often the only queer person with a migrant and first-generation background, being the first in my family to go to university. During everyday small talk, I noticed that non-LGBTQIA+ people feel much safer than students like me. In addition, fellow students with parents who went through higher education could navigate the university journey more easily. I also realized that the teaching at EUR was very Western-oriented. Many of the examples and assignments were mainly focused on the West, which really surprised me for an internationally oriented university like EUR. For me, diversity is not only about gender or different ethnic backgrounds. It is intersectional, complex and not always visible: first-generation students like me, for example, might also have this feeling that they don’t fit in right away, and are not 'included'."

Brett Sayles from Pexels

"During my bachelor, I did a research internship where I studied diversity in Rotterdam. That really opened my eyes and made me realize that the diversity of the city itself is not truly reflected in our university yet. When there was a vacancy for a Student Diversity Officer at ESSB, I immediately applied. This role was not predefined, so I had a lot of room to shape the position myself and come up with new initiatives together with the ESSB diversity officer Laura den Dulk. The diversity and inclusion team (D&I Team) works to improve policies every day, for example, on how to make our teaching material more inclusive and to design programmes that foster a safe and inclusive environment. Besides working on policies, we also organize gatherings like Iftars dinners for Muslim faculty members and those who want to learn and exchange culture. Everyone is welcome: it’s a great way to find a community and learn more about each other's backgrounds."

Feeling at home

"A lot of my work is about making students and staff members feel at home at EUR and giving them a sense of belonging. My experiences as a student motivate me enormously. I know how it is to be an EUR student from abroad with a different background. And now, as a staff member, I can use that experience to make a positive change. I want other people to have a smooth transition when they arrive at the university.

As a diversifying faculty and university, we also work on policies to encourage people to stay in academia. If you look at more senior academic positions, there is still very little diversity. So, the need for change is evident. If more people with different backgrounds stay in academia, research and education at EUR will become more diverse, which - eventually - fosters our societal impact and engagement."

Meaningful impact

"To be able to create meaningful impact that considers diversity, I believe it is important to connect with people outside of your own circle. These could be people who are outside of your comfort zone, but meeting new students and staff members from different backgrounds and disciplines can also help you realize what your blind spots and privileges are. So, making positive impact is not just a to-do list with big impactful tasks. It can also be realized through small actions, like social interactions and by recognizing others. Talking about recognition, it was a nice surprise and an honor to be nominated for the 'Student of the Year' award. Visibility is not a prerequisite for making an impact, but it leads me to more opportunities to collaborate on meaningful projects. It also gives me the feeling that my hard work is being seen by the EUR community. It’s an encouragement to continue my mission and help make people feel at home at Erasmus University as much as possible."


Alex Huang was born in Taiwan. He studied at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences (ESSB) for both his bachelor's and master's degrees. During his studies he was Student Diversity and Inclusion Officer at ESSB. He now has a job at the diversity and inclusion team of ESSB and works at the LDE Centre for Governance of Migration & Diversity

More information

The lustrum year of EUR runs from the summer of 2023 to the end of the academic year in the summer of 2024. Various activities around the lustrum will take place in the near future. View all activities and more on the lustrum page.

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