Humans of WUR: Sterrin Smalbrugge

Who actually works or studies at Wageningen University & Research (WUR)? Read all about it in the series Humans of WUR.

We start the series with Sterrin Smalbrugge: WUR alumnus, PhD student at the department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and Expedition Robinson participant.

"When I was asked to participate in Expeditie Robinson, it was a dream come true. I absolutely love nature and survival, but I mainly decided to do it because I wanted to challenge myself socially."

"I am quite an introverted person, which I love about myself. I think it’s one of the reasons why I feel so connected to animals. However, I started to notice how it held me back in my professional life sometimes. Therefore, I thought it would be a good learning experience for me to put myself out there on an island with a big group of strangers under extreme conditions. If I was able to survive out there, both physically, mentally and socially, then I could do anything."

"My experience with Expeditie Robinson has taught me some important life lessons. For example, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable."

"I used to be afraid of rejection, which held me back from connecting with people. When I got voted out of my island, the rejection did hurt at first. However, it actually led to something much better because I was transferred to an island with people that suited me more. This way, I learned that rejection can actually work out for the best. Therefore, it’s important to just put yourself out there and give it your best shot."

"As a herpetologist, I want to raise awareness on the importance of reptiles for nature. My ultimate goal is to make the world a better place for all animals, including the ones that most people don’t care about, like reptiles. I do this through research and raising awareness."

"For example, I have written several children’s books about reptiles and their importance for nature. I get many touching messages from my readers, who are often introverted too. They tell me that they struggle making friends but that the books give them a sense of belonging. It’s so wonderful to feel like I have become one of the role models that I used to look up to when I was younger. I want to teach children that it’s okay to be introverted. You don’t need to change for society, because you can find so much value in being yourself!"