Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

AUAS student Anita Abaisa wins ECHO-award

Part-time Applied Psychology student reaps success with ‘Black Ladies Talk’ platform

28 Oct 2016 12:32 | Communication

AUAS Applied Psychology student Anita Abaisa has won the 2016 Higher Professional Education ECHO Award. This prize is awarded annually to the most promising student in higher professional education from a non-western background, who has provided an extraordinary social contribution to multicultural society. Anita was awarded the prize for among other things her platform ‘Black Ladies Talk.’

Anita Abaisa

The 2016 Higher Professional Education ECHO Award jury praised the impressive way in which Anita Abaisa brings people together via social media, stemming from her social drive to connect people. They also found her 'limitless energy and authenticity' infectious.

Anita Abaisa studies Applied Psychology part-time at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. In her third year she launched a Facebook group, as she desired to know what moves and motivates other black women. Her Black Ladies Talk platform has now – a year on from its launch - grown to become a digital community of more than 6500 women, with 12 moderators, various professional fields and sub groups such as health and business.

Removing barriers

Anita’s approach with her Black Ladies Talk platform is ‘with positivity and pride’. The premise is that black women can exchange experiences, help conquer mental barriers and assist each other in their personal and professional development. Anita: "This has established a network in which people recognise and appreciate each other. We also occasionally have difficult discussions, for example about racism, but always from a respect for each other."

Balancing act

In her own words, Anita is in exactly the right place; studying Applied Psychology. It took her 22 years to discover her calling, but now she is absolutely sure: researching what moves people, why people do what they do.

As a part-time student, Anita is continuously looking for the right balance: "My degree programme is vital to me. Even more important however is to have a life away from my studies; not postponing life until my programme is finished. This means a continuous balancing act. But if I occasionally slip, and if the balance goes out of kilter, well, that's fine too. Actually being outside my comfort zone is when I tend to learn more."

To the US

Anita's ECHO Award prize includes a summer course at UCLA in California. She is looking forward to the experience and to benefit from this ‘inclusive learning environment’. However, she also wishes to give something in return: the richness and diversity of Dutch multicultural society. "The Netherlands’ history is bound up with communities from for example Suriname and the Caribbean. They could also learn a lot at UCLA from our history."

She also wishes to spread these notions and ideas even wider in the Netherlands: "We have so many beautiful cultures rubbing shoulders in the Netherlands, we should really take more advantage of the added value this can bring us. This can only happen if people appreciate the wealth of these ways of life from a different perspective."