Meet the campus – Jolanda Hillebrand (Jo from Initium)

When I say ‘Jo van het Initium’ probably all of you know who I am talking about. For the ones who don’t… shame on you! When you are having a mental breakdown or you want to have a nice laugh, Jo is always there for you. This time in our column ‘Meet the campus’, Jo will tell us all about herself and the students who call her ‘the mom of the VU’.

Hi Jo, for the students who don’t know you yet, can you shortly introduce yourself?

“Well, I am Jolanda Hillebrand, 58 years old (although I don’t feel like I am 58, because the students keep me very young!), I have three children and seven grandchildren. I have been working at the VU for over five years now.”

What is a fun fact about you that we must know?

“Most of the time I am very happy and I am a positive person, that is because I was born in the Vrolijkstraat and I am currently living in Gein and that is also very fijn.”

Why is working at the VU, and especially in the Initium, so much fun?

“The variety of the students and their changing moods 🙂 When the exam week is coming, I see all those stressed faces looking at me. Then I tell them to take a rooibos tea, not coffee, it doesn’t help you to relax. Then I make a joke and the stress fades away! After the exams I always get to know what grade they obtained.”

Is that why some students call you their ‘VU mom’?

“Yes! I have a good relationship with a lot of students. Sometimes it happens that students who have a little breakdown (about what so ever) come by, then I cheer them up and give them a big hug! Now and then it happens that a student comes to see me with their parents after his/her bachelor ceremony. They want me to meet their parents and take a goodbye picture.”

If you have ever been on the second floor of the Initium, you know Jo loves to sing. That’s why we want to know what your favourite song is?

“My favourite song at the moment is ‘Shape of you’ from Ed Sheeran, but I like a lot of songs. When my children were younger we used to go to a camping where I sung the full karaoke every summer for eleven years in a row!”

If you were a participant in the Voice of Holland, whom of the juries would you choose?

“For sure Miss Montreal! I love the songs she writes and she is spontaneous, which I love about her. “

What is the craziest thing that happened during your work?

“One time a student came up to me and asked if I would hold on to his girlfriends’ birth control strip for a few hours until she would come to pick it up!”

Last but not least! What are your plans for the future?

 “I want to work here until I retire and be waved goodbye by the new young students!”

Would you like to meet more famous people from the VU campus? Read our blog about Marvin from the Spar and Milka from the 8th floor coffee corner.