Published on: 01 October 2018
Written by: Sander Engelberts

After some confusion on what time we appointed we got started, just in the middle of both our scheduled times. And we got to know a lot about this reMarkable and well-prepared person. Do you for example know in what theatre play Mark performed lately? Or do you know about all the extracurricular stuff he is doing this year? And what about his guilty pleasures? You can read all about the very first AI* of the new academic year Mark Rietvelt in this interview!

Welcome Mark, can you start by telling something about yourself?

Hey Sander, I am Mark Rietvelt, with a ‘t’ on the end. I originate from Apeldoorn, I am 18 years old, I am a second year AI student, and I have a lot of hobbies. I like running, shamelessly dancing and singing at parties, cooking, baking, theatre, CognAC (a great hobby) and anything AI related for the study or CognAC.

Great to hear, is there something nice coming up for your theatre?

Maybe, we had a play a short while ago and are going to play it again maybe in February. It is about the ‘men’, which is very ironic with me as one of the actors, but it is mostly fun. It is about all kinds of stereotypes, and how we as actors don’t have those.

I need to say that I really have envy for secretaries and don’t know how to do without, it is hard to keep up with everything, but luckily I also have a recording. After some more catching up with typing I ask: Is there also some nice kind of run you will do?

Yes, Loes and I are going for half a marathon in Eindhoven within a month, which is quite a challenge. I never ran that far before, but it is going to be cool and I am looking forward to it. Also, I am happy when it is over, because the trainings and recovery afterwards take a lot of time per week.

To come back to your shamelessly dancing and singing at parties, what is your guilty pleasure?

Mark was prepared and already thought about this, firstly thinking about the dancing and singing, but people see him doing this all the time already. So, he continues with other guilty pleasures: I also like drinking Fristi, but too many people know. Thus, a real one is listening to childhood music, for example from a play where I went to. And eating dinner leftovers for breakfast, I love that. I can eat anything that you eat at dinner for breakfast, really anything.

Does the childhood music also include Disney?

Of course it does, although Disney is not just childhood for me. My favourite Disney movie would be Vaiana, which is actually quite recent.

Mark already guessed right I wanted to ask him about his favourite Disney movie somewhere in this interview so slipped it in already, great preparations on the traditional questions! However, I want to make an additional note here: you also have a very cute Olaf onesie from Frozen.

Yes, you could have seen it in the CognAC movie, it is really cute. It says: “I like warm hugs” on it. Which kind of became a life motto. But it is really hot, so it is only for winters, although I like to wear it anytime.

Yes, it is so soft and cuddly. But why then is Viana your favourite Disney movie and not Frozen?

It is mostly the feels you get from the movie. On a deeper level it is the call for being independent, doing something what you stand for, which I like. But mostly it is just atmosphere and the feelgood. Though note it is not completely feelgood, but there also some tragic moments in it.

This explanation indeed fits you, and if we are talking about doing what you stand for, can you talk about the participation system of the university you are in?

Yes, the DPC, shameless advertisement. The Degree Programme Committee (DPC) advices the programme (coordinators) on how to improve the programme and that is where you guys as students come in and can really help us by giving input. It is amazing that we as students can have such an influence on the programme, I think, and this is something I stand for and a reason why I want to be a representative of the DPC.

There are also other things you do within the university, can you tell more about that?

I am the TK manager, which has a nice story on how I became it. We were talking in the TK that it was a TA job on the TA registration list, and we came to the conclusion that this is actually a thing. So, we thought it would be a nice job, after which I thought: let’s just do it. I just applied for it and became the TK manager, and now I need to clean the TK and try to fix the things that come up. So, if anyone has comments or suggestions please let me know.

A short reMark before Mark continues with the story (‘reMark’ is one of the many word/Mark jokes he makes): “the pictures in the board room are awesome”.

Furthermore, I am an APS mentor which I really like, and which directly links to the orientation week of course. Being there for other people is really important for me, just like making sure that other people feel at home and know that they are appreciated here within AI / CognAC / elsewhere. This mainly comes from me having had and still having that home feeling within CognAC. For me CognAC really is a family.

This is a nice bridge to more specific questions on CognAC, starting with: which committees did you join last year?

Last year was a bit more busy than I am going to be this year probably regarding committees. I started off with the First Years Committee (1C), as secretary, which is an awesome committee by the way. This also later turned into the 1MCA, an awesome committee with awesome people (we wanted to host another activity as a part of the 1C and were allowed by the 27th board to do a Valentines auction for charity and raised a lot of money with it).

I also directly started with the Orientation Committee (OrC), as well as secretary, because I already was quite passionate about it during the orientation week. The orientation week makes a good atmosphere for the first years and let them get to know this and feel all the AI and CognAC fibes. AI and CognAC are quite intertwined for me, though AI is a bit broader because not everyone is member of CognAC.

Later in the year (at the Half Year General Members Meeting), I also joined the Board Application Committee (BAC). This is an awesome committee in which we handled all the applications for being in the board, which were an amazing amount last year. We also had interviews with all prospect board members, which leads us to this wonderful new board. These interview days were intense, with all the dedication to make the best board combination possible, which made it really hard but also very rewarding.  Being in the BAC was an awesome experience I won’t forget.

Good to hear about your positive experiences. Do you maybe also know which committees you would like to join later in your CognAC future?

The OrC again because it is just plain awesome. I planned quite some parts of my Bachelor already, but not the extracurricular activities, so I really haven’t thought about this question yet. There are many awesome committees, next to OrC and BAC I might look to these if I have the time. However, it is important to make choices and not do everything. I think it is more important to do less and do it well than do a lot and stress out and not finishing your tasks. Thus, I don’t want to set myself too many goals on that point.

At this point Pleun walks in and asks if he can be annoying and sit at our spot to work behind the computer. So, we switch places, Mark prepares his dinner, and we start with the remaining part of the interview: can you also tell how you did get involved within CognAC?

That is all because of the orientation week, which started off great for me and I knew that I wanted to be part of this awesome group of people that were organising this. Then it just started, I went to the committee market, and was so inspired for the OrC and the 1C that I joined both. With these committees I was already an active member, and additionally I joined so many activities which made me even more hyped.

Then on to your studies, why did you decide to study AI here in Nijmegen?

For a long time, I thought about studying Psychology, but I also knew people who were studying AI so I visited a day here in Nijmegen and at some point I had a hard time choosing. But my feeling said I needed to go here. When I told this to my parents, they answered that I only talk about AI here in Nijmegen so should go here.

Do you also have a specific interest within AI, as you already mentioned psychology?

I still think psychology is the main subject I am interested in. I didn’t know about programming at first but now I think it is really cool. So, I thought it would be my worst and my most disliked part, but actually it is not. I still have a slight preference in psychology so that is why I am going to take courses from Pedagogical Sciences as well. During Brain for AI I was also really interested in the child’s brain and development, which is also a reason why I want to do electives at Pedagogical Sciences and maybe even want to do an internship at the Baby & Child Research Center here. But the best thing about AI is its diversity so I don’t want to choose a side yet.

Let’s now wrap it up before people need to read even more, but there is one question I still want to ask.

Can I add a question?

Yes definitely.

What the favourite animal for CognAC is.

I need to laugh and then read my notes aloud: “We’re almost done now, but I want to first ask you a very important question: what kind of animal would CognAC need as a pet?”

We now both laugh and then Mark starts his story. I thought about this for a whole hour, and I looked through some previous options, which are all awesome by the way. A personal one for me is a dolphin. As a child I really loved dolphins and dolphins are really sociable animals, you can’t find one alone. And that is what I think is also so cool about CognAC: the social aspect, the being with other people, which gives such a good feeling and atmosphere within CognAC. The problem is that having a dolphin here would mean you need to have a group of them and there is not enough space here in the board room.

We can indeed ask for an aquarium in the new Social Sciences building.

I agree.

And then the very last question. I see you indeed have prepared this already as well, all written down: do you have any shout-outs or other closing remarks?

I want to give a shout-out to: the OrC, all the lovely first years, my mentees in particular because they are awesome, the DPC, my lovely friends from Leonardo da Vinci (study association of Science in Nijmegen), the 1C and of course the 1MCA

Pleun now interrupts and asks if this are the shout-outs. Well noticed, it indeed are.

Mark continues with: our living TK furniture (Lars), the 27th and the 28th board of CognAC, Faabs and the OrCs of my orientation (academic year 2017-2018), the BAC of course, and the diehard GMM goers, and not to forget the amazing staff at AI, and all the CognACers that I have been fortunate enough to meet and who make me feel so at home here

Pleun asks for a shout-out, on which indeed we react that he is already included in the 28th board, but he indeed wants a personal one and Jorrit wants a hug (yes, he also walked in at some point).

So, Mark says: a personal shout-out to Pleun

Jorrit asks for a Minion sticker.

Mark continues again: my train squad, and to Jorrit and his love for Minions

Jorrit is indeed very happy and says he would have otherwise added it on the site himself, that he does what he wants. We all start laughing and agree on doing what you want and what suits you. Mark eventually asks if we are done so he can add the last missing one:

Sander, who is an amazing chair and mostly an amazing friend, thanks for being.

There are some awwws on the background and now Mark and I start hugging and thanking each other for being. Also, here I want to take the opportunity to thank Mark again for all the things he already did and will do within CognAC. 

To the reader, thank you for making it this far into the interview! If you have a suggestion for the next AI* you can send it to secretary@svcognac.nl.