His goal was crystal clear: Darren Aletoe would be the first in his family to earn a university diploma. But he had to adjust that dream when poor grades in high school forced him out of the pre-university track and down to a lower level. A university education seemed out of reach, but Darren ultimately managed to get accepted to a Master’s program at Nyenrode.
“I actually wanted to study Commercial Economics or Business Administration, but after taking some tests and talking to the dean, it turned out that I was more interested in people,” Darren says. “I discussed it with my family and discovered that my grandfather had studied psychiatric nursing.” Darren’s grandfather is an important figure in his life. He was the first in the family to make the journey from Curaçao to the Netherlands, where he worked as the manager of a hospital’s psychiatric department and later as a consultant. Taking after his grandfather’s fascination with people, Darren began studying Applied Psychology at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Deventer.
Enhancing the positive in people
He ended up heading in a different direction, however. “As a clinical psychologist, you help people to function normally in day-to-day life,” Darren explains. “I prefer to focus on enhancing the positive in people.” He delved into occupational and organizational psychology, learning about topics such as effective collaboration and performance psychology. “I use a lot of the knowledge I gained in those areas to work on my own personal development.”
During his graduation internship, Darren explored the field of HR analytics. This brought together his interests in both people and business. It was there that he worked on his thesis examining the relationship between employee satisfaction and turnover within an organization. “The study revealed a weak but significant link between employee commitment and turnover. For example, opportunities for development were an important factor influencing commitment.”
Scholarship from alumni
During that internship, Darren talked to some colleagues who had studied at Nyenrode. “They had more to say about their year at Nyenrode than the six years they spent studying at other schools.” That enthusiasm and commitment sparked Darren’s curiosity. Although he had some savings from part-time jobs, support from his family and the possibility to take out a loan, coming up with enough money to pay the tuition fees was still an obstacle. He had one shot at making his dream come true: a scholarship from Stichting Nyenrode Fonds.
These scholarships are “revolving” in nature, which means that after the recipient completes his or her studies, he or she will in turn make a new scholarship possible for a future student. Darren was invited for an interview with NOIB alumni from the class of 1955 to discuss the scholarship they offer. “In that interview I started to think about what a great concept it was to be part of something that would continue beyond my own student days,” Darren explains. “This way others have the opportunity to study at Nyenrode as well.” In the end, he was awarded the scholarship.
Room for improvement
Darren is now pursuing his Master of Science in Management with a focus on Digital Business & Innovation. “I thought I knew myself pretty well, but through my time at Nyenrode I’ve discovered where I still have room for improvement,” he says. “To successfully collaborate under pressure, sometimes I have to give up control and hand work over to others. I learned a lot from my Applied Psychology program. Now the challenge for me is to look at the situations I’m in with a helicopter view, so to speak. I can use my knowledge to check work or let people carry on with their own learning process. In order to learn, it’s important not to cling too much to theory, but actually experience things as well.”
After completing his Master’s degree, Darren envisions a career as an analytics or management consultant at a large company. He explains: “When I chose Nyenrode, I also decided what I wanted to do afterwards. After I graduate, I’d like to gain some work experience at a large consultancy firm first. Eventually I want to work at a smaller company or start a business of my own,” he says. “If you have a goal in mind, you can determine your path to get there.”
If you would like to help motivated students like Darren kick-start their careers, consider making a contribution to a scholarship for talented students who do not have enough financial resources to pay for a study program at Nyenrode. To find out more, please contact the Nyenrode Fund for further information on tax-advantaged donation options.