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DAAD-Preisträger Yash Ankurbhai Shah auf der Absolventenverabschiedung (Foto: Jana Dünnhaupt / Uni Magdeburg)
06.12.2022 from 
Campus + City
A time full of firsts

When Yash Ankurbhai Shah arrived in Magdeburg from India in 2018 to study for a Master’s degree at the university, he probably did not imagine that he would end up being solely responsible for running the RIA Buddy Program. The student, who at that time was pursuing a degree in Data and Knowledge Engineering, initially made contact with the study program for international students during the welcome weeks in his first semester. “The buddy program had a stand. Honestly, I didn’t ask for any more details and just signed up,” recalls Yash Ankurbhai Shah. He was assigned a buddy, who helped him to become acquainted with the new country and its culture. In the 2019 summer semester he decided to become a buddy himself and help with the study program, since “apart from the support for international students, I thought that the approach of the program of supporting intercultural exchanges on a personal level was a really good one,” he says.

Towards the end of the summer semester, however, many of the members of the organizing committee of the RIA program were either finishing their degrees or spending a period of time abroad. At this time, the registration forms for the new international students had already been sent out. “We received a lot of applications. Since we assumed that the students were expecting support from us, we thought it was only right to keep the program alive,” says Shah. So the student decided, alongside his studies and research work, to continue to run the program more or less by himself. He took care of the matching between newcomers and buddies, sent out confirmations and answered any queries that arose by email. It posed a challenge for Yash Ankurbhai Shah to deal with all of these tasks by himself. In his opinion, this also had an impact on the marketing efforts to recruit more buddies for the new semester. On top of this, he lacked the necessary time, and the language barrier did not make it all any easier. Against all the odds, with the help of other students he succeeded in recruiting new organizing members for the buddy program and also achieving excellent results in his Master’s degree.

Sign of appreciation

His many years of voluntary work and outstanding academic achievements have not gone unnoticed. This year, Yash Ankurbhai Shah had the honor of being awarded a prize by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The world’s largest sponsorship organization for the international exchange of students and academics honors particular academic achievements and social commitment with this award. “I always wondered how much I, as a foreign student, could contribute, and tried to make my small contribution. The prize recognizes precisely these achievements, and so being nominated and ultimately chosen for the award feels like a sign of appreciation of all my efforts. I am happy and humbled at the same time to have been awarded the prize,” says Shah.

Looking back, his time at the university was a time of firsts for the Master's graduate: “I lived, studied and worked in a foreign country. In addition, I learned a new language and got to grips with different rules, customs and a foreign culture. And that was what I liked best about my time at the university: it helped me experience these many firsts in the best possible way. It made me more resilient, tolerant, understanding and thankful.”

After his studies, he remained in Germany, where he is seeking to improve his German language skills, immerse himself more deeply in the culture and is working as a data engineer in the pharmaceutical industry. “I hope that I can remain on a career path where I can continue to learn and make a positive impact,” says Shah.