Student in the Spotlight with Maura Purnama

A media degree at Webster Leiden isn’t just a chance to think critically about modern media. For Maura Purnama, it was a chance to get the practical media skills she believes will be useful in any kind of business career in the future.

 

Maura, 22, and from Indonesia, was one of a team of students who has already put her classes into action by launching the student website, www.webstercanal.nl. But, after two years on campus in Leiden (in person or remotely), she also has the skillset to make podcasts, create social media posts and to really understand the modern world as seen through the prism of social media. “Everything is practical and current at Webster’s media communication department,” she says. “We are always talking about what’s happening right now in the media, on Twitter, on Snapchat, how people are telling their stories. When you read newspapers, you know what’s happening around the news. But on Instagram, you see interesting pictures without the full context. At Webster, they teach you that you can’t take everything from new media at face value: you need to find out what is actually happening so you are less likely to take in false information.”

She put theory into practice with four other students, launching the new website to provide all the information current students need, showcase student work and link up with teachers, faculties and former students. The launch couldn’t take place in real life due to the Dutch coronavirus lockdown from March 2020, but instead the editors decided to promote the site by inviting students to become photojournalists themselves with a photography competition called Capturing Reality in Times of Isolation and Hope. “The goal is to allow everyone to see their new normal from a different perspective,” says Maura. “It doesn’t have to be bad. It’s just a different version of what we used to do, whether that’s grocery shopping, commuting on the bus or opening your laptop and seeing your teacher’s face from the computer. The competition is so people can show each other their version of the new normal.”

This kind of connectedness is a real characteristic of Webster Leiden, according to Maura. She was able to use credits from a year at Santa Barbara City College in California towards her Webster degree after her family moved to the Netherlands. “The main Webster campus is in St Louis but there are a lot of campuses around the world and you are able to do all the necessary classes without changing your speed but moving around,” she adds. “I can do one semester in Webster Leiden, and the next at Webster Thailand, and the next at Webster Vienna, without messing with the progress to get the BA. There’s not a lot of universities like that, and it makes the vibe at Webster so interesting.”

She has now completed her degree, majoring in media with a minor in psychology, and is moving on to study media innovation at Breda University of Applied Sciences. But the analytical and practical skills she has learned, she says, will be useful whatever she does in future (and she plans to pop up on the alumni pages of the Webstercanal too!) ‘I’d like to open my own business in the future, but before that, I want to work with beauty brands, skincare products, beautiful makeup that’s also sustainable, working on their social media,” she says. “Webster has given me this theoretical understanding of how the media is evolving and how to navigate it, but also the practical skills.”