Students of KatHO are "Students of the Year 2022"

© David Portnicki
  • DHV and DSW honor comprehensive help after flood in Stolberg

Bonn/Berlin, 8 February 2022. 15 students of Katholische Hochschule Nordrhein-Westfalen (KatHO) from the Department of Social Work at the location in Aachen will be honored this year by the German University Association (DHV) and Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) as "Students of the Year" for their exemplary commitment to catastrophe relief in Stolberg.

In mid-July last year, the flood of the century also severely devastated the town near Aachen. Numerous "katho" students immediately pitched in to clean up the mess and did not stop when the roughest jobs were done. Instead, on the initiative and under the coordination of the then executive committee of the AStA, they join forces with other helpers in the self-organized "Willy" supply camp on Willy-Brandt-Platz in Stolberg. There, the prospective social workers unselfishly put their skills and knowledge at the disposal of those affected by the natural catastrophe, among whom were primarily many people in a worse social position.

Since August 2021, a core team of 15 students, supported by other volunteers, has been running the social tent at the Stolberg help camp, listening to the concerns and needs of those affected by the floods, helping with childcare and coping with everyday worries, offering psychological and social counseling services, or actively assisting with visits to the authorities and applications for aid. As winter approaches, the students design and conduct a flood survey of more than 4,000 affected households to determine the precise needs of the victims and initiate measures to meet those needs.

With the founding of a non-profit association under the name "Gemeinsam weiter" the projects of the social tent, which are largely supported by the students, will also be stabilized and continuously adapted to the needs of the people of Stolberg, who even after months often still lack basic necessities such as electricity, heating, hot water, cooking facilities or Internet access. The current plan is to remain on site with offers of help and support until spring 2023.

"The students' civic engagement builds on their studies and is actively supported and benevolently encouraged by their instructors, but it goes far beyond that. Through their time-intensive and extra-mandatory commitment, they demonstrate solidarity in action, promote social cooperation and selflessly drive forward the reconstruction efforts following the immense flood damage in Stolberg," DHV President Professor Dr. Bernhard Kempen and DSW President Professor Dr. Rolf-Dieter Postlep jointly explain the award.

The "Student of the Year" award was presented by the DHV and DSW for the seventh time. The award recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding commitment that goes beyond their academic achievements and should be as unique and innovative as possible. According to the unanimous opinion of the six-member DHV/DSW jury, these criteria are fulfilled by the Aachen students of katho, who are involved in the Stolberg supply camp "Willy", through their extraordinary and in every respect exemplary commitment.

Officially, the "Students of the Year" will be awarded on 28 March 2022, at the online "Gala of German Science" of Deutscher Hochschulverband; the gala will be streamed. The award comes with prize money of 5,000 euros, donated by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.

Information on provision camp „Willy“ in Stolberg:

Information on flood survey:

The team of students of the year 2022 is:
Mohammed Arfan Ashmavi, Luisa Bühler, M-Obaida Dehna, Kerstin Gutknecht, Pauline Halfmann, Sarah Hermanns, Simone Hieronymus, Jonas Hustinx, Anne-Katrin Krutt, Laika Lauscher, Fee Nixdorf, Jens Rattay, Marion Schestakow, Yannik Stachowiak, Oliver Stöber

DHV/DSW jury:
Dr. Yvonne Dorf, Managing director of DHV
Dr. Matthias Jaroch, DHV spokesperson
Prof. Dr. Daniela Wawra, University Passau
Matthias Anbuhl, DSW general secretary
Tim Bloem, Oldenburg, spokesperson of DSW Studierendenrat
Susanne Schütz, Bochum, spokesperson of DSW Studierendenrat

Contact person for media at Deutscher Hochschulverband:
Dr. Matthias Jaroch, spokesperson
Rheinallee 18, 53173 Bonn
tel.: +49228 902 6615
email: jaroch@hochschulverband.de

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