Master’s programme holds its first ever alumni reunion

Alumni, faculty and staff of the Joint Master’s of Geography of Environment and Human Security recently gathered virtually for the programme’s first-ever alumni reunion. Although held online, the reunion didn’t miss a beat in bringing the “GeoRisk” community back together.

Jointly hosted by UNU-EHS and the University of Bonn Department of Geography (GIUB), the reunion had a dedicated agenda complete with a nostalgic quiz, a video, lecturer addresses and alumni stories to set the atmosphere. To kick off the festivities, the reunion opened with a brief timeline and overview of the programme’s history to now.

“It was good to see so many former students after the first 8 years and we are really proud of their successful career pathways,” said Senior Scientist, Prof. Joerg Szarzynski, who first implemented the master programme together with Prof. Klaus Greve from the GIUB back in 2013. “Their success is a wonderful indication that we are doing the right things with the master programme.”

The nostalgic quiz brought back some blasts from the past as well, as it took the alumni back to their journeys as students. It raised memories of many of their favorite activities like the excursions, hiking in the nearby Siebengebirge, meeting at the Rhein, and having bonfires. It also touched on some of the more sentimental topics. For instance, when asked what they would tell themselves as students now, the resounding responses were “enjoy the ride” and “don’t be stressed.” It was a fitting reminder of just how far they had come since their time as students.

On hand to provide alumni stories were Melanie Flynn, James McArthur, Kieran Munnelly, Annita Kirwa and Haniel Girón De León, all of whom represented different cohorts. Flynn, who is from the very first batch, is now a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds researching knowledge mobilization in community-engaged arctic research. McArthur is a GIS and DRR Specialist at REACH, a humanitarian NGO. Munnelly is a crisis management and resilience expert at Allianz, a global financial services company. Kirwa is also taking on her PhD, researching climate change and development at the University of Nairobi. Girón De León, a recent graduate, works as a climate policy and governance expert at the Green Climate Fund in Incheon, South Korea.

Although differing in their routes, the similarity in their success after graduation was hardly unnoticed. “Everyone is doing different things. We heard from Melanie, who is researching in the arctic, and Kieran, who is leading resilience in the private sector, which are both very unique things,” said Girón De León, who comes from Guatemala. “The programme paves the way for so many opportunities afterward and we have applied our expertise to different areas. I was even learning new things.”


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