Published on: 27 March 2021
Written by: Emma Beekman

After a short chat about how it’s been waaaaaay too long since we’ve seen each other, I start the interview with our AI* of March: Matthijs Sparreboom.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Matthijs, 21 years. I’m originally from Leiden and I’m currently in the third year of my Bachelor’s, I’m doing a board year at Olympus, and some of you might know me as a member of the DPC. I’m also in the City Trip Committee and AlmanaC. In my free time I try to go to the gym but of course that’s a bit hard nowadays. Hopefully this will be possible again soon. Yeah, I think that’s it.

Nice! A whole list, but we’re going to talk about a lot of things you already mentioned.

You said you’re currently in your third year of the bachelor. Why did you choose to study AI?

It was actually a coincidence. In high school, I had a few information days, but I had no idea of what to study. My father also has a career in the IT and he proposed looking at AI. At first, I had no clue what it was exactly, but after finding out that is was a combination of math, robotics, computing science, etc. I decided that this would be the right study for me. Then I started looking at the different universities and I applied for Nijmegen and Amsterdam, in the end I chose Nijmegen

Very good choice!

Yes! I’m still happy with my choice.

And then you also became a member of CognAC, the most amazing study association there is!

Yes! In my first year I wasn’t very active, I was mostly focused on getting my BSA. In my second year I decided that I wanted to do something next to my studies, so I joined the DPC. Then I heard there was an active members activity coming up, and I immediately got excited for this. Ofcourse, you have to be an active member (i.e., being in at least one committee of CognAC) to join this activity, so I applied for the CTC at 3 A.M., drunk, in the snackbar at Keizer Karel Plein. It was initially not a serious application, but I did become an active member and I could join the Active Members Activity.

And you joined the CTC, of course.

Hahaha, yes, I did.

Nice, good story! Talking about the CTC: you’re still in the committee, and even chairing it. What is the CTC currently working on?

We’re very busy organising Real-Life Monopoly. It’s a very classic-CognAC activity. Originally it was organised by the Monopoly Committee, but now the City Trip Committee is taking care of it. Because of the pandemic, the activity will be a bit different this year. Instead of having to travel to many cities in the Netherlands, we will play the Nijmegen-edition. I will not spoil the exact details, you just have to be there. (But you can check out the website for a bit more information)

Nice! I’m very excited for this special edition.

In your introduction, you also told me that you were doing a board year at Olympus. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

Yes! Olympus is the umbrella association of all beta associations of Nijmegen. We are there to support all our member associations. Besides that, we also organise a few big activities like Beestfeest, Biergarten, LAN-night and the Movie Night. All these activities are a lot of fun and often joined by a lot of people. It’s really sad that we had to cancel, or shift to online our activities this year. I really hope that I can organise at least one Beestfeest this year, that would make my board year complete.

Officially I’m the secretary of the Olympus board, however, in practice I am a general board member. This entails that I need to do the bookkeeping of everything we have in stock. Olympus also takes care of the canteens in the Huygensbuilding, where CognAC normally organises a lot of drinks. Olympus always takes care of the food and drinks we sell here, so I’m responsible for the administration of this. But to be honest, I haven’t done anything like this in this year hahaha. But officially it’s my task.

What’s it like to do a board year during corona-times?

I really enjoy it! I like organising the online activities we do, and in general I love just working together with my board. But, it could have been so much more. As I already told you, things like Beestfeest and the Huygens canteens are a very important to Olympus. I miss the social interaction that comes with a board, even the board rooms are closed at the moment. So that’s a bit sad, but I still really enjoy my board year.

Good to hear! You’re not only busy with studying AI and doing a board year at Olympus, but you’re also a part of the FSC and DPC! Could you tell us a bit more about that?

Yes! The DPC stands for Degree Programme Committee. I hope everyone knows about it by now, we spammed our promo quite a lot. Our task is to maintain the quality of education within our studies. An example of what we do is that we make the course evaluations. Students can always email us about anything that has something to do with the quality of education. Our e-mail address is: If students have complaints, or we notice that a lot of students run into the same problems, then it is our task to see if we can solve these problems. At this moment, we are busy trying to improve the communication towards the students. This is already my second year in the DPC and I really like it because you get to know all the juicy details of what is happening in the AI programme.

Besides that, I’m also a part of the FSC: the Faculty Student Council. It is basically the same role as the DPC, but then faculty-wide. So our task is to maintain the quality of education within the Faculty of Social Sciences. We represent all students of the faculty in case the faculty board makes a decision that affects the students. An example of this are the quality agreements that were made by getting rid of the ‘basisbeurs’ (The study grant that all students received, in 2014 this was changed to a loan). The money that was gained by this directly flows into the university and the faculty decides what to do with this. We are trying to make sure this money actually goes to improvement of education for the students, for example with better workplaces, or more TA’s for a course.

I really like combining both the DPC and the FSC, because you really get to know what’s happening behind the scenes, and to contribute to this myself as well.

You already do a lot next to your studies. But is there still something on your to-do list? Like, a specific committee within CognAC or something completely different?

Well, first of all, I can’t wait to go to parties again after the pandemic. So that is the biggest thing on my to-do list.

This year, I’m already busy enough so I don’t think I will be joining any other committees next to the AlmanaC and CTC. As for next year: I want to do another board year, but then at Kompanio. I would love to get the “real” board-year experience next year.

I also really want to go abroad sometime. To the US or Canada.

Wow! When would that be then?

It would be in my fifth year, but let’s not talk about my study delay today. Corona actually helped me a bit, I will most likely get more EC this year than I anticipated on so that’s nice.


Okay this was it for the CognAC- and study-related questions. But of course we would like to get to know you a bit better personally. What’s something you’re proud of, your biggest achievement?

Oooh that’s a hard question. Something not a lot of people know is that I used to play table-tennis on quite a high level. During my best years I played on national A-level. That’s definitely something I’m proud of.

Wow, cool! I did not know that.

Next question: what’s your ultimate guilty pleasure?

Taking shots of Goldstrike on parties is definitely something I do, which I’m not necessarily proud of. I’m also a member of student association Ovum Novum, and at one point it was so bad that I never went to the ‘soos’ without taking a shot of Goldstrike. I think I managed to do this for 2,5 month. It was really bad, definitely my guilty pleasure.

Hahaha that sounds horrible. How long has it been since your last shot of Goldstrike?

Wow. I think it was over a year ago. Stupid Corona.

Right! What is the worst thing about Corona? Not taking Goldstrike shots anymore.

 I miss it so much. Always being hungover at your programming workgroup at Friday. But doing it every week.

Here Matthijs and I talk a bit about our memories of our first year, where we spent a lot of time programming while being hungover. We bring back the memories of a very bad smelling sandwich with pepperoni and almost having to throw up. Trying to make Kareltje run around a church while your braincells are completely gone. Oh… those good times. Matthijs also admitted that he found out that Object Oriented Programming is a lot easier if you get a good night’s sleep the night before. That’s some good advice!

Okay, last question before shoutouts. What is your favourite recipe to cook?

I love lasagne. Before I found out that I’m allergic to gluten, I always made it the “normal” way with  bechamelsauce, I absolutely loved that. I put soooo much of that sauce in my lasagne. Now that I have to eat gluten-free, it’s a bit harder. But there are a lot of alternative ingredients, like ricotta cheese for example. So it still is my favourite recipe. It’s also nice to make a lot of it, then you have enough for 2-3 days.

Then we’ve reached the end of the interview. Do you have any shoutouts?

A big shoutout to Teun and Serah, for tricking me into going to the CognAC evening. Shoutout to Noa: seccie is the best function! Shoutout to the CTC for organising the best activity CognAC has: Real Life Monopoly. Everyone should join!

Nice! Thank you Matthijs, for this this interview. And thank you for everything you do for all the students, both in CognAC as well as outside of it. It’s very much appreciated.