Siblings at Jacobs University: Lara and Arne John

Siblings and fellow students: Arne and Lara John. (Source: private) ,


June 4, 2020

On 12 June, Arne will celebrate his graduation. He will spend the day with his sister Lara, their mother and probably their grandmother at home in Halstenbek near Hamburg. That is the plan. To meet friends from all over the world and their families, that would have been very nice, says Arne. However, because of the coronavirus, this won’t be possible. For the first time in its history, Jacobs University will have a virtual graduation in 2020. "I'm still looking forward to the ceremony," says Arne.

The graduation of her students is the highlight of the academic year at Jacobs University. Guests from all over the world travel to the joyful, festive and colorful ceremony – usually. For the first time in the university’s history, the ceremony is taking place as a virtual event, which holds many exciting and emotional highlights for the students. Joyful, festive and colorful works online, too.

One of this year's graduates is Arne John. He studied psychology with a minor in mathematics at Jacobs University, an unusual combination. "It’s cool that that's possible at Jacobs University," he says. "In the exact science of mathematics, you can either be right or wrong. In psychology, on the other hand, it always depends, they say," the 25-year-old describes the difference with a smile. The passionate chess player had already studied mathematics for two years at the University of Hamburg, but without inner conviction. Lectures with more than 400 fellow students and the long journey to the university did not help to increase his enthusiasm for studying. "I wanted to study something else, but didn't know what."

Through a recommendation from acquaintances, he came across the preparatory year at Jacobs University, the one-year course in which students gain insights into various subjects. "That was wonderful," says Arne. "I can learn much better in discourse. The groups were small, the professors always approachable, I lived on campus with everyone else, made new friends quickly." For Arne, says his sister, who also studies at Jacobs University, it suddenly clicked. "You could really see how the knot was untied. He had not picked up a book for years. Suddenly he wanted to learn and study."

Foundations of Psychology – this course had particularly appealed to him and it led to him deciding to pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology at Jacobs University. "It's the diversity of the subject that fascinates me so much. From the structure of the brain, to the mechanisms that make us perceive the world, to our social behavior and how we create our world and self-image." The fascination has remained. After his bachelor's, Arne wants to do a master's, probably in General Psychology.

The fact that Arne felt so comfortable at Jacobs University has to do with Lara. She accompanied her three years older brother on his first visit to the campus and she immediately knew: "This is where I want to go." The internationality at the university with students from over 120 nations and the English-language teaching particularly appealed to her. Like Arne, she completed the preparatory year, they both lived at Krupp College, one of the four accommodations on campus. But unlike her brother, she chose the study program "International Relations: Politics and History". She is very satisfied with her choice of studies – especially the close contact to the professors is important to her. "We have amazing lecturers who demand a lot, but also support us," says Lara.

Lara and Arne are not only siblings, they are also very good friends. "I am very happy to have a brother like Arne. He is always there for me, even when I am sad", says Lara. Despite their close relationship, both are very independent personalities with different interests, characteristics and hobbies. "Arne is very logical and analytical, he tries to solve problems. I'm more emotional and creative, I like to paint and write", says Lara, who prefers riding a motorcycle to playing chess.

Lara is active in the student self-administration of Jacobs University; she is chairperson of the academic committee, a body that deals with the academic development of the university. In addition, she runs the student theater club.

For her the signs are pointing to farewell as well, at least for a short time. With the support of her professors, she has qualified for a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. She was planning to spend a semester abroad at Washington State University in the USA this fall. Since she probably will not be able to do so, she is currently looking for an alternative in Europe.

Lara will graduate next year. It is quite possible that she will experience her graduation together with Arne. Jacobs University has offered this year's graduates the opportunity to participate in one of the future graduation ceremonies on campus. With friends from all over the world, the traditional hat toss and everything that goes with it.

This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at