In 'Stream of Consciousness', we give the floor to someone from the UAntwerp community. Our speaker today is: Jacotte Brokken. She graduated as Master of Science in Chemistry from UAntwerp in 2015, and is now the new face of the VRT weather team.
What drives you?
I constantly seek personal growth. I want to know myself better. And professionally, I want to keep learning constantly
What is your motto?
DoediesZot (do something crazy). Science and technology are often taken too seriously. As far as I’m concerned, things should sometimes be a bit more relaxed, a bit more humorous... a bit sillier, in other words.
How old do you feel?
When I hop around VRT I feel 21. When I stay up later than midnight for a night, I feel 88 the next day.
What/Who was your inspiration?
Lieven Scheire. I used to want to become ‘the female Lieven Scheire’. But by now, so many women have entered science communication that that idea has become redundant. And just as well. Now we can all just be ourselves.
What does the perfect Sunday morning look like for you?
Taking pre-ordered baked pastries off the door handle, reading a newspaper, listening to music, all very relaxed. And then in the late afternoon, sitting outside at a cafe having drinks with friends.
Which professor impressed you the most?
Professor Frank Blockhuys. He was strict but fair. And he had a sense of humour, which made his classes very enjoyable. I will never forget how, in the second year, he got the giggles while explaining the two-split experiment. For the master programme, after a series of chemistry courses, he also taught the course Scientific Reporting. This was the first course in which I really excelled. His positive feedback has always stayed with me.
Do you have any advice for prospective students?
Take your time. Get a taste of all that your student life has to offer. Go on Erasmus, do that master-after-master, take that sabbatical year. Because – and now I am going to feel like 88 again – once you start working, there is no time for all that.
What would you like to study next?
Japanese! I am a big fan of Japan: the culture, the people, the food... But sadly, I only speak twenty words or so. I want to change that – when I have time one day.
How did your friends and family react to your career choice?
Stressed. Sometimes I feel like my parents are more stressed than I am. Also, the choices that brought me here often gave them headaches. I was a real job hopper in the first years of my career. In addition to my job, I pursued a postgraduate degree and did an internship at VRT. After that internship, I terminated my permanent contract for interim contracts at the public broadcaster... That did give them some stress. But that leap of faith got me where I am today!
How does your job give you satisfaction?
If my job gives me energy rather than costs me, then I know I’m okay. I also like variety and interacting with colleagues.
Ardennes or the sea?
Ardennes. Nothing beats a walk in the forest.
Cycling or going for a walk?
Going for walks. It’s slower, but that also gives you time to take more pictures.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Non-fiction, mostly because I like learning new things.
Working from home or at the office?
Preferably a combination of the two. I can concentrate better at home, but I also very quickly miss the atmosphere at the office.