'Studying gives you the opportunity to learn to think analytically’

As a child, SP party leader Lilian Marijnissen wanted to become a vet. Yet, years later, she chose to study Political Science in Nijmegen: “I wanted to understand how inequality comes about so I could do something about it.”

Portret Lilian Marijnissen

I see it as our task to make the Netherlands fairer and more social 



Lilian Marijnissen

Current role

SP party leader

Previous education

Master Political Science

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

'As a child, I wanted to be something completely different from what I’m doing now: I wanted to be a vet. I really love animals, and it seemed wonderful to be able to make animals better. I also liked the idea of working as a journalist or documentary filmmaker.'

Why did you choose to study Political Science, and why in Nijmegen?

'I was already active in the city council in my hometown of Oss, and there I was really struck by what I found fair or unfair in the way people were treated. Also the fact that inequality does not arise naturally but is the result of political choices. I wanted to understand this better, to be able to change it. Nijmegen was the closest place to beautiful Oss.'

You are the head of the SP party in the House of Representatives. What exactly do you do? And how do you use the knowledge from your study in your job? 

'As a party leader, I’m responsible for the party and everything that is needed to do our work well as a party. In addition, as a political leader, I also appear in the media on a regular basis. As a representative of the people, I have to read a lot of documents. During my study programme in political science, I learned to quickly extract the main gist from long texts. In addition, studying gives you the opportunity to learn to think analytically.'

In what ways do you have impact on your environment? How do you contribute to making society more sustainable?

'At the House of Representatives, political decisions are taken almost every day that have a huge impact on the daily lives of Dutch people. I see it as our task to make the Netherlands fairer and more social. And to be the voice of the people in the House.'

Do you have any advice or tips for current students? 

'Keep asking questions!'

Complete the following sentence: Over the next five years, Nijmegen School of Management should focus on...  

'Less management and more public affairs. I’ve always found it a bit strange that the Political Science programme should fall under Nijmegen School of Management. We already have enough managers in the Netherlands.'