Published on: 08 December 2021
Written by: Yael Raz

You’ve been chosen as AI* of October, congratulations! Can you tell us something about yourself?

Hello everyone! I’m Lelia, I am 21 years old and I am in my fourth year of the AI Bachelor. Last year I was the Chief of Education of the XXX Board. I am originally from Bucharest, Romania and I currently live in Nijmegen. Oh and also very importantly: I am a Sagittarius.


How do you feel about becoming AI*?

It’s very nice!!! Especially after the long online board year last year. It was also just nice to see people at the CognAC Evening so I really appreciate becoming the Spooktober AI* and that the announcement could be done in real life.


You mentioned your board year last year, how was it?

I really relied on the other board members, I think we all relied on each other a lot. Even though we did not always see each other too much :( I definitely also learnt a lot from it, it helped me grow as a person. Of course I am a bit sad that we had to miss out on some of the fun aspects of a board year, but I don’t regret applying. I couldn’t have wished for better fellow board members and despite everything, all of our moments together were fun and meaningful (love you XXX!!!). I thought it was great we could help CognAC through the pandemic-era but also very happy that we can pass the job to you. It’s sooo nice to participate in activities when you have no responsibilities!


Some people may not know this, but you’re actually part of CognAC’s Senate now! What’s it like?

I am very happy for the opportunity to stay in the loop and help the board, especially after such an online year it gives me another chance to help the association. I think I got into the senate because I really care about CognAC and about making it a cozy and fun place for everyone. I am still learning from the Senate MastersTM how to be a good senate member, but it’s very epic to still help behind the scenes of it all.


The Senate may be one of CognAC’s lesser known committees, but you are also in a whole bunch of other fun committees! Can you tell us which ones?

I am in the SC, PC and SymCo (the holy trinity of Chief of Education committees), also I am in the PaparaC, InC and AC! I used to be in the AlmanaC* too :)


*Study Committee,  Parent’s Day Committee, Symposium Committee, Paparazzi Committee, International Committee, Activities Committee, Almanac Committee


Wow, that’s a lot… You call the SC, PC and SymCo your holy trinity committees because you used to deal with them a lot as Chief of Education last year, do they still have a special place in your heart?

I really like them a lot! The SC is a lot of work but it’s really my baby with all its education-like tasks. The SymCo has so many members this year! That’s really nice because it means that we can really make something epic for the upcoming symposium. The PC is currently a little low on members, if you’re interested in joining read this blogpost about what the committee does and how you can become a member! I really hope we can have a physical Parent’s Day this year.


What can you tell us about the other committees you’re in?

During our board year we revived the InC and now we’re ten members strong! You should definitely consider joining if you’re an international (or if you’re Dutch too), it’s a lot of fun! It was also one of the first committees I was in in my first year so it is quite special to me. The PaparaC and the AC are less ‘serious’ committees and especially the PaparaC is a good place to work on creative new projects *wink wink* so stay tuned.


Sounds like you’ve experienced a lot in CognAC, do you have a favourite memory?

I have a lot of very nice memories, so I am not sure I can choose a favourite… During this year’s orientation week we got a glimpse of how it could’ve been if we would’ve had a ‘normal’ year. It was also one of the last things that we as XXX Board did and it was very nice that we could do that together. Also the physical Discharge GMM was very wholesome, even though I Gotcha’d you ;)


Yes I got Gotcha’d at my first GMM, that was a very unfortunate event… But you guys did look great in your suits ;)

Thank you!


When you’re not one of CognAC’s most influential members, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I do quite a lot actually. I love being an introparent (though this is still a CognAC thing oops) and the last few years I was also an APS mom which was lots of fun! It was sad that I couldn’t be an APS mentor this year, but I couldn’t combine it with the time working on my thesis. I also TA for some courses. Basically as you can hear I like being busy at uni, which is why it’s actually kind of difficult to think of things I like doing outside of that lol.


If you had to name a few non-uni related hobbies, what would they be?

I love travelling a lot, but sadly I don't  have much time :( I also like hanging out with friends and going to parties (sad lockdown noises). Luckily I can always read books and play video games, two things I also really like!


You sound like a very balanced person with all those different kinds of hobbies!

My healing crystals at home would agree ;)


You mentioned you like travelling, what’s your favourite place to go?

When I travel in the Netherlands I love going to The Hague, it’s such a fun city AND it has a beach!?!?! Crazy! In general though I think I would say Rome so far. I have visited there when I was much younger and I don’t think I appreciated it enough so I’d love to go again! Ideally I would like to go to Japan but that still feels like a far-away dream.



You also mentioned that you are an Epic Gamer, what kinds of games do you like?

One of my favourite games is Mass Effect, actually one of the main reasons I went to study AI is because I liked the AI EDI so much! Looking back she was a bit sexist though :/ I also love The Sims and Genshin Impact but I don’t have as much time to game as I’d like to.


Earlier you teased that you are currently working on your thesis, how is that going for you?

My thesis has to do with gender stereotypes/sexist bias in AI and whether we can actually turn it around so AI is a helpful tool for women in particular. I only recently found this topic, though things like this have always interested me. Shoutout to Olivia from ‘AI as a Science’, she is also my thesis supervisor! I am very lucky with my thesis groups, we all knew each other before so it is very fun! 

For the future, I want to do something along the topic of gender bias and AI. I also considered something to do with forensic analysis, because I really love detective and true crime shows. In the end, I think the bias in AI topic because will help people more. I really want to help develop AI that can have a positive societal impact!


You are also a TA for the course Societal Impact of AI, what do you think of the way this field of AI is taught in Nijmegen?

I think it’s very nice, compared to other cities! There is a lot of focus on this part of AI here, which is quite rare. Last year I got some sneak peeks at a new Masters track in this field that looks very cool so I might stick around. One of my favourite things about AI in Nijmegen is how broad it is :)


Small question in between: what are your favourite detective and true crime shows and do you have any recommendations?

I very much recommend Cult Liter by Spencer Henry (he also has a show called Obitchuary lol). I used to listen to this show before going to sleep last year, it’s very funny and interesting! I also listen to a podcast called Mile Higher, but sometimes the people hosting it can be a bit annoying… When it comes to detective shows I like Castle a lot! I used to watch it with my mom on TV, but I never finished it. Now it’s on Disney+ so I can watch all the episodes hehehe. I also like The Mentalist a lot, that guy is hot.


Confirmed, he’s very hot.


Getting back to a different topic; what is it like for you to be an international in Nijmegen?

It’s very cold here! When I first came here it was a bit more of a shock that I thought it would be. I arrived here for the first time with my dad (shoutout to my dad! Hello dad!), we got lost so many times… Once we even paid €5 to get to the city centre when we were right around the corner lol. I do kind of miss bigger cities, I feel that after so many years I have explored it all here. That is why  I also like how many ways there are to travel around in the Netherlands. Also I love kipcorn, the best Dutch thing ever.


Sadly we’re nearing the end of our interview :( Do you have anything you would like to share with your fellow CognACcies?

I hope everyone is doing well and hanging in there during this 5000th lockdown. I also hope that we will still have a lot of fun with CognAC and that everything will end up being great after all. Take care of yourselves and lots of (distanced) hugs and kisses! 


Lastly, do you have any shoutouts to give?

I mentioned my dad earlier and I want to give a shoutout to my mom as well! Obviously a shoutout to the best board (sorry): XXX best board! Shoutout to all my committees: SC, PC, SymCo, InC, AC, PaparaC and Senate! Also big shoutout to all my intro and APS kids, my own introgroup (I hope you’re still hanging in there) and a shoutout to the lazy noon coffee from the DE Cafe, bring it back!! Finally a shoutout to our XXXI board kiddos and Yael for the interview!


Thank you so much for the interview Lelia!

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