AUC alumnus Leon Lan wins ECHO Award 2018

24 September 2018

On Thursday, 20 September, AUC alumnus Leon Lan was announced as one of the four winners of the ECHO Awards 2018. Lan was selected as the winner of the Beta Techniek Award for the strength in expressing his own story of self-development in a multicultural community, how he uses his scientific knowledge and abilities to further promote diversity in higher education, and for his goal to continue encouraging Dutch-Chinese youth to more actively participate in wider societal debates about diversity and inclusivity in the Netherlands.

This marks the second year in a row that an AUC student has received the ECHO Béta Techniek Award, with AUC alumnus Khaled Tamimy being awarded the prize in 2017.

Selecting ECHO Award winners

The ECHO Award is a prize given to excellent students with a multicultural background in the Netherlands. The award and ceremony are arranged by the Expertisecentrum Diversiteitsbeleid (Centre for Diversity Policy) in higher education. Their main mission is to recognise and support the accomplishments of students with a non-Western background in the Netherlands who are making an impact at their institution or in their community.

To be eligible for an ECHO Award, a student must be nominated and meet certain criteria. These criteria include academic merit, having an active role in their community, involvement in multicultural society and displaying leadership, entrepreneurial or other admirable qualities.

The selection procedure involves six independent jury members discussing the nominations. For the 2018 ECHO Awards, 13 of the 34 total nominations were invited to a second round where candidates gave presentations to the jury. These presentations not only allowed the jury to get a better sense of who the candidates are and their future ambitions, but also to hear what receiving the ECHO Award would mean to them. From the 13 finalists, 4 were selected as winners in the categories of HBO, WO, Béta Techniek and the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax Award.

Leon Lan receives ECHO Béta Techniek Award

For the 2018 ECHO Awards, Leon Lan was selected as the winner of the Béta Techniek category. Graduating from AUC in 2018, Lan excelled at his studies in mathematics and computer programming, while also taking an active role in the community. An AUC Scholarship Fund (ASF) recipient, he was part of various initiatives including science-oriented outreach committee Jeugdlab, working on improving AUC’s curriculum and culture through the Voices of AUC platform and working on implementing policies related to diversity/inclusivity as an active member of AUC’s DO (Diversity Outreach) Group. Just after graduating from AUC, Lan was accepted to participate in the Netherlands Asia Honours Summer School (NAHSS) where he was able to take Chinese language and cultural classes to further support his ambition of becoming a "bridge builder" between the Netherlands and China. 

Lan’s enthusiasm, intelligence, drive and active approach to diversity also impressed the judges of the ECHO Awards. Using his own experience of growing up between the cultures of the Netherlands and China, Lan recounted how his individual search for identity led him to become actively aware of the strengths to be found in multicultural communities. Along with his enthusiasm for computer science and mathematics, Lan found creative ways to stimulate students and youth from diverse cultural backgrounds in the Netherlands to engage in both STEM higher education and debates on inclusivity. The jury lauded his inventive initiatives of combining academic prowess and civic engagement, and especially praised the attention he continues to give to Dutch-Chinese communities.

AUC Dean Prof. Murray Pratt also praised Lan’s accomplishments, stating:

Leon is a very suitable recipient of this prestigious award. I'm delighted and immensely proud. His outstanding academic achievements at AUC were matched by his dedication to making a difference in the community, both within AUC and in Amsterdam. As the jury remarked, Leon is someone whose awareness of social justice and dedication to the promotion of equal opportunities grew stronger over the three years of his degree, and he is a worthy ambassador both for ECHO and for AUC. This honour recognises AUC's on-going commitment to diversity and inclusion, and is a celebration of the community's contributions to building an academic and social environment where students can develop their intellectual talents as well as forge meaningful roles for themselves and their peers as the thought-leaders and change-makers of today and tomorrow.

Learning more about diversity policy at UCLA

In addition to being named an ECHO Ambassador, part of the ECHO Award consists of spending a summer studying at the University of California, Los Angeles. During his time there, Lan states that he’s looking to learn more about diversity policy in American institutions of higher education and to connect with Chinese-American students to share their experiences.

AUC would once again like to congratulate Leon on his accomplishments and receiving the ECHO Béta Techniek Award 2018.

Published by  Amsterdam University College