Reflections 2023-09-21

Introducing our program assistants – Winter Semester 2023-2024

By Anita Van der Gracht

As the new academic year approaches, the four new program assistants (PAs) – Gabriela, Elias, Sofi and Anita – are filled with enthusiasm as they embark on this exciting new chapter within the Vienna Master program. They are confident that their journey here will offer them professional and personal growth and valuable learning experiences and contribute to their skills. 

Each semester, our Vienna Master Team is enriched by the addition of 3-4 PAs, who are recent graduates or still pursuing their studies, as part of an Erasmus+ traineeship. Their diverse backgrounds and expertise bring a wide range of skills to the Vienna Master Team which will surely benefit from them. This dynamic team undertakes various responsibilities, including academic research in various fields, and overall program support, from marketing to hands-on participation in the study trips (Kosovo/Venice). 

The first two months into their new adventure have been really exciting and amazing. They were introduced and warmly welcomed by the Vienna Master Team. After a successful  onboarding week, thanks to the previous PAs, and after a few weeks to familiarize themselves with their new position, we are very happy to introduce you to the new program assistants: 


Meet Gabriela Adamczyk

Gabriela is a true Cracovian at heart, who spent her entire life growing up and studying in Krakow, Poland. In pursuit of her traineeship at VMAAHR, she took her first step to live in a different place for the first time. Fortunately, this unique journey brought her to Vienna, a city she had already fallen head over heels for. 

Gabriela holds a bachelor’s degree in Polish studies, with a specialization in anthropology and culture. However, driven by her profound love for writing and literature, she decided to pursue her master’s degree in Literary Criticism at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. To her, language is like a pliable Play-Doh plasticine ball, that she can shape and mold according to her creative mind, resulting in the creation of a beautiful text. It is in this artistic process that she finds great satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Besides that, Gabriela has a deep concern for the pressing issues surrounding the climate crisis. With a background as a journalist, she dedicated two years to writing on climate justice, sustainability and environmental protection. However, her drive for positive change led her to seek a more impactful role, prompting her to become a member of a climate and social activist group. Through her involvement, she aims to raise awareness about the climate crisis and its profound implications for human rights. 


Meet Elias Ikola 

Elias is from Seinäjoki, Etelä-Pohjanmaa, Finland, but at the age of 22, he made the move to Rauma to pursue his degree in teaching. His educational journey took him to the University of Turku, where he recently handed in his master’s thesis. His major focuses on craft, design and technology education with a minor in primary teaching. 

Throughout his teacher training, Elias has been engaged in the subject of human rights. He firmly believes that education and human rights are intertwined and inseparable, particularly regarding the accessibility of education for all. Elias recognizes the vital role teachers play in imparting the principles of human rights within the classroom. In addition to his academic pursuits, he actively participated in the student council at his university, organizing events aimed at fostering a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all students. 

Elias views this traineeship opportunity at the Vienna Master as an ideal way to combine his expertise in crafts with his passion for human rights. Beyond that, he seeks to get to know better the internal workings of a university, as his prior experience has been limited to the roles of school student and teacher. He is looking forward to learning the unique insights into human rights practices so he can incorporate this into his teaching. 


Meet Sofia Bautista

Sofi Bautista grew up in the vibrant city of Guadalajara, Mexico, where she also got her bachelor’s degree in law from ITESO University.  Her quest for knowledge of human rights led her to The Netherlands, where she recently obtained her master’s in International and European Law with a specialization in Human Rights and Immigration at Radboud University. 

From an early age, Sofi had a deep passion for law and human rights. This dedication led her to pursue her studies in this field and gain valuable international experiences by working with multiple NGOs based in Washington D.C. She also earned a certificate in international human rights protection and strategic litigation, specifically emphasizing the inter-American human rights system. She became the youngest person ever to attain this distinction. Sofi’s journey also took her to the University of Pennsylvania, where she participated in the “Global School of Human Rights” summer program. This enriching experience deepened her understanding of human rights issues. 

Sofi is inspired by the program’s fusion of arts and human rights, recognizing that today’s global challenges demand a multifaceted approach. Having grown up in Mexico, Sofi thinks she can bring a unique cross-cultural perspective to the master’s program. Furthermore, her master’s thesis focused on post-conflict countries, equipping her with valuable insights that she can contribute to the program. 


Meet Anita Van der Gracht

Anita, born in Leuven, Belgium, is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Educational Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB). Her academic journey began with a bachelor’s degree in Adult Educational Sciences, a multidisciplinary study encompassing psychology, sociology and philosophy. Despite her love for Brussels, she thrives on venturing beyond her comfort zone and exploring new places. Last year, she spent five months studying in Stockholm through the Erasmus+ program and is now happy to live in Vienna as part of this traineeship at the Vienna Master.

Throughout her bachelor’s studies, Anita had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through an internship at VUB, where she served in the role of a study path counselor. This role provided her with invaluable insights into the “behind the scenes” of a university and the support and guidance of students.

Additionally, universal access to education is a cause close to her heart. She is very passionate about girls’ education in complex situations as she has deepened her knowledge about the challenges faced through her research during her master’s studies. She is convinced that she will learn a lot during this traineeship and looks forward to integrating her passion for human rights education into her future career. 


As the four program assistants look ahead, they are very excited to welcome the incoming Generation 12 into the big Vienna Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights family. They also look forward to getting to know Generation 11 and celebrating the achievements of Generation 10’s graduates in October. The journey continues and they are thrilled to be a part of it.

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