Elise Brussé (22, student Public Administration) noticed a call at sin-online, Erasmus University’s information system, for families to apply for an alumni family portrait. As a joke, she sent a screenshot her older sister, Mariska (30). That’s why the two of them are now sitting at the very university pavillion where Mariska obtained her Master Sociology in 2013, studying parttime, and Elise decided to enroll in Public Administration in 2014.
‘Our conversations are changing, becoming more profound. The age difference is getting smaller’
It wasn’t always obvious that the sisters from Krimpen would go to university. ‘Our parents told us to follow our hearts, so that’s what we did.’ Previously, Mariska obtained a higher vocational education to become a realtor. She was working fulltime at real estate company Woonstad Rotterdam when she decided, at 24, to go and get herself another education. Working during the day, she went to lectures at Erasmus University at night. ‘My social life was virtually non-existent. I went straight from work to university two days a week.’ In hindsight, she commends her teachers for their accessibility, noting it went a long way towards the pace and focus she needed to finish her course. Elise followed a somewhat more traditional path, by enrolling straight out of high school, becoming a member of student society VGSR, and renting student housing. Mariska only has praise for Elise’s personal growth over a relative short period of time. ‘We’re having different, more profound conversations about political and social subjects. The age difference is becoming smaller and smaller.’ Elise in turn looks up to her older sister. ‘My sister helped me out; she got me the subject for my bachelor graduation project. She probably piqued my interest for Erasmus University.’ What will the future bring? Mariska will ‘happily continue working away’, while Elise is set to begin her graduation internship in Bilthoven. Once again the down-to-earth Brussé attitude emerges: ‘There are fewer public sector jobs in Rotterdam, so perhaps I’ll have to move. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. First up: graduation.’
TEXT: Marjolein Stormezand
PHOTO: Aysha Gasanova