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Germany Scholarship: From workaholic to a workhorse for the community

7 Dec 2020

The Germany Scholarship promotes exceptionally talented students as well as people that are socially engaged or face personal hurdles. One such person is Alina Breddemann.

Aufnahme der Deutschlandstipendiatin Alina Breddeman

Alina Breddemann | © Jan Greune / LMU

Alina Breddemann, a psychology student, decided to begin a parallel degree in philosophy at LMU. It can be quite exhausting at times, the 21-year-old admits. “But I happen to be really interested in both subjects,” she laughs. Her goal is to work as a therapist in the field of social welfare. But she wouldn’t have been able to embark on her double degree without the help of the Deutschlandstipendium scholarship. This gave her the financial freedom to give up her job as a research assistant in the faculty for developmental psychology and focus instead on a second degree. “At first I tried working fewer hours, but even that wasn’t enough when exam time came round,” Alina explains. But although she now has more time at her disposal, she hasn’t dedicated all of it to studying.

When she first came to Munich, Alina — who comes from the Ruhr region of Germany — began volunteering in a pediatric center, where she visited handicapped children and teenagers as a welcome change from their therapy schedules. But when German schools closed on account of the coronavirus, she signed up to the “Corona School” instead. The aim of this project was to help older schoolchildren with self-study. Every week, she would spend up to eight hours helping two secondary school pupils prepare for their school leaving exams. “I really enjoyed being a small part in helping to manage the crisis,” she says in retrospect.

In addition, Alina completed a training course to combat food waste, organized by the Foodsharing Society, to become a qualified “food saver”. After office hours, she now regularly contacts four Munich businesses to ask whether they have any leftover food that would otherwise go to waste. It’s a lot of work, because if they say yes, Alina is committed to distributing the leftover food amongst friends, acquaintances or dormitories. Eating it herself isn’t an option — “I couldn’t possibly manage that amount!” she laughs. Alina hopes that her work in this field will inspire people to be more mindful of resources.

Alongside her commitments in the community, Alina is also heavily involved in campus life. Through conversations with friends, she’s realized that everyone is for equality — but people often dislike feminism. Which is why the 21-year-old has made it her mission to raise awareness. Together with a group of fellow students, she researches a different theme each week. A recent example: different movements within feminism. The group also uses role play to practice conducting conversations with sexist people. “Lots of people are shocked when I say I’m a feminist,” Alina says. “But I want to make it a topic of conversation so that society can actually change. As soon as the coronavirus permits, the group plans to organize some really big events.

When asked where she gets all her energy, Alina shrugs. “I’ve never thought about it,” she says, almost as though it were a strange question to ask. Alina grew up in Bochum and has three younger siblings, but her family was not academically minded. “I always had to work if I wanted money for going on vacation or traveling,” she says. But it never bothered her that she had to work in restaurants or bars to earn her way — in contrast to her classmates, who had everything handed to them on a plate by their parents. “It was stressful at times, but I had the satisfaction of knowing I’d earned it by myself,” she explains. Unsurprisingly, she was also involved in volunteer work at the time, coaching children between the ages of three and nine in her local equestrian vaulting club. Even as a teenager, however, she seemed to have a gift for juggling her school work with her side jobs and volunteer work — and even gained a distinction for excellent grades in her advanced school leaving exams.

You’d think Alina would be glad to step back from her busy schedule and wind down when she’s on holiday. But true workaholics never take a break, not even when they’re on vacation. When Alina traveled to Asia, she worked five hours a day to pay for her board and lodging — which at least meant she was able to stay there for several months. And even in Asia, she was involved in volunteer work, of course; this time teaching children and teenagers in a Buddhist monastery and helping to redecorate the classrooms. So does she never feel like she needs a break? Alina pauses briefly to consider the question. “It doesn’t actually feel all that much to me!” she says.

Become a sponsor now! The Deutschlandstipendium at LMU survives on the support it is offered by companies, foundations and private individuals. Your tax-deductable donation of 150 euros per month is then doubled by the federal government and given, in full, to one of our scholarship students. With this financial support, young people can focus on addressing the future of our society without needing to worry about money — a big relief especially in these times of crisis.