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Reaching the Finish Together

Students from the University of Freiburg put on their running shoes for the Deutschlandstipendium

Freiburg, Apr 16, 2019

A rainy Sunday in Freiburg. Runners who have been longing for this day for weeks surge through the streets. And amongst the participants in the Freiburg Marathon there are fifteen University of Freiburg students who have received funding from the Deutschlandstipendium national scholarship program. To raise the profile of the program, they have picked up the baton to run the race in a relay.

Students joined together to support the Deutschlandstipendium with a relay run. Photo: Patrick Seeger

Admittedly the weather could be better. Although a handful of people have gathered along the Mozartstraße by the park, sheltering under umbrellas as they wait for the Freiburg marathon runners, there are still large gaps alongside the route, but the athletes aren’t put off by this. Flocking together under the Schlossberg funicular bridge they wait for their Deutschlandstipendium relay team to start.

Fifteen scholarship holders are taking part in the marathon on this rainy Sunday. Twelve of them are taking part in the relay, three are braving a half marathon. They aim to promote the Deutschlandstipendium with their efforts. The funding program gives students 300 euros a month each. “This is our first public campaign and we’re hoping for donations,” explains Peter Allmann from the Public Relations and Event Management Department of the University of Freiburg.

True Sportsmanship

Half of the scholarship funding has to be raised by the university, such as from private sponsors, associations and organizations. Then - and only then - the national government matches the total. “We want to be a face for the scholarship,” explains Allmann. “The program is designed for students, so they are the ones who are promoting it by running.”

One of the students is Luisa Heilemann. She is waiting her turn at the change station on the Mozartstraße. She is aiming to do fourteen kilometers today. Gradually the rain stops, and people dare to leave the shelter of the bridge. “I’m motivated, even if it’s raining,” laughs Heilemann. She received the scholarship for a year and wants to give something back by running. “The support was really practical for me,” she explains. Last summer she took her medical examination. “I benefited a lot from it easing the burden. I didn’t have to work as much, had more time to learn.” Going on the run has also been an opportunity for her to get to know other scholarship holders. So Heilemann accepts that it will be a strenuous weekend, “I had a handball match yesterday too.” From the sports hall to the wet streets - that’s sportsmanship!

More opportunity, more independence

The Deutschlandstipendium has been available in Freiburg since 2012. The program is performance-based. “It also takes into account aspects such as social engagement, overcoming personal difficulties or professional background and experience,” explains Allmann. “Mainly however it is about academic achievements.”

To raise the profile of the Deutschlandstipendium, Peter Allmann (in the blue top) joined the runners. Photo: Patrick Seeger

Naturally 300 euros isn’t enough to cover students’ every need. But the idea is that the participants do not have to take on a part-time job and can still be less dependent on their parents. “It means maybe you can buy a textbook which would otherwise have been too expensive,” explains Allmann. The idea of having scholarship holders take part in the marathon was realized by Allmann together with student assistants Alexandra Sachariew and Johannes Hepe.

Sachariew is responsible for organization at the change station. She is taking care of participants’ jackets and making sure that everyone meets up in the bustle of the way station. Not exactly an easy job, as there is a fair bit of confusion to begin with. A crowd of runners has come from Herdern running towards the city center. Where are the scholarship holders? Can anyone see the blue “DLS Runner” tops they are wearing? Is that one of them over there? But in the end it all works out, the participants meet up, the baton is passed on.

Strengthening society

Patrick Stein has just arrived from his seven kilometer circuit from the Messe event center to the city park. “It went really well,” he smiles. He wasn’t exactly encouraged on his way to the starting point, “I was caught in a shower on the bike and my trainers got wet. But it barely rained while I was running.” Stein has just finished his degree; he took his Master’s in Microsystems Engineering in Freiburg during which he received a scholarship for two years. “It was important to me to have a degree of independence from my parents,” he explains. He took part in the run to strengthen society. “But there was also a sporting motivation there too,” he says and grins.

In future, Allmann hopes that the Deutschlandstipendium will become even better known. It’s possible that university staff will also run for the scholarship with the students next time. Allmann has done his bit already once: as well as organizing he has also taken part as a runner. The mood is elated after the marathon, just taking part in the effort has been fun. Putting up with a bit of rain isn’t much to ask in a good cause.

Supporting students

The Deutschlandstipendium offers performance-based support of 300 euros per student a month. The support is basically available for one year, but can also be renewed for a second. At present the university grants 156 scholarships. You can obtain more information from Peter Allmann by telephone on +49 761 203-9802 or by e-mail.

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