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Leonoor Cornelissen

BA International Politics and History | 2013

Nationality: Dutch

Graduate School: Masters in International Development, Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland

Current Position: Senior Policy Advisor on Forced Displacement at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, The Hague Area, Netherlands
Position at time of interview: Migration and Development Policy Officer

“A world of opportunities”

Noor currently works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague, Netherlands as a Migration and Development Policy Officer. In this role, she works primarily on policy matters in reception and protection of refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, and focuses on access to education and work. She also represents the Netherlands on the board of the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, and is contributing to the realization of a Dutch and European integral approach to migration and asylum matters in the UN and other fora.

She is also an elected Board Member at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders), and serves on the Board which manages the MSF association. She has previously worked as a Humanitarian Affairs Officer at MSF.

“What I sought was exactly that: an international community that really celebrated its diversity—and that’s what I found.“

Leonoor Cornelissen

How did Jacobs University help you reach your personal goals?

I think Jacobs helped me in reaching my goals in that it offered lots of opportunities for me professionally, and personally. I think on campus there were always clubs, there was really a sense of community in order to let me develop safely at that age in the person that I wanted to become. At the same time, professionally there were opportunities to do internships, to get financial support for internships, to do field work for my thesis research. I think it really provided a community with a lot of support in which a lot of things were possible.

What did you search for and find at Jacobs University?

Well, I came from an international boarding school at high school (United World College), and I really wanted to go back to a community like that—a community that really valued diversity. So, I was a bit hesitant to go to for example, a university in the U.S. where only 6% maybe, is international. When I found Jacobs, what I sought was exactly that: an international community that really celebrated its diversity—and that’s what I found.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

I think with advice, it only really works once you’ve experienced it yourself. You can receive it, but you really only internalize it once you’ve had the experience. But if there is one thing I’d say is to—we’ve heard a lot about this term of “employability”, and my advice would be: try not to become employable. That’s not the purpose of university. The purpose is to become empathetic, and compassionate, and critical. Focus on developing those skills and not on becoming an employable person for the labor market.


Read more about Leonoor Cornelissen

Copyright: Doctors Without Borders

On the road for Doctors Without Borders
Noor Cornelissen is on the move. The 25-year old graduate from Jacobs University works for Doctors Without Borders, currently on a Search and Rescue ship for people crossing the Mediterranean. Before that she was in the Congo and in Uganda in a camp for South Sudanese refugees. As “Humanitarian Affairs Officer” her task in Africa was, among other things, to analyze the humanitarian context of the aid organization’s local health centers. more...