Always Stay Curious – 200 Alumni of Freie Universität Celebrate 25 Years since Earning Their Doctorates
Jul 09, 2013
Christina Nova-Kaltsouni and her husband, Antonis Kaltsounis, came from sunny Athens. Salamat Khandker made a special trip from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Monika Pawlik, from Orangeburg, New York, also flew thousands of kilometers. They live on different continents, have different jobs, and yet they do have one thing in common: All of them earned a doctorate at Freie Universität Berlin 25 years ago. In all, about 200 alumni in the doctoral class of 1988 celebrated their anniversary.
“I had chosen Freie Universität very deliberately to study political science and sociology,” Nova-Kaltsouni says. The divided city, home to contrasts and contradictions, was the ideal place for her studies, she says. Today, Nova-Kaltsouni is a professor at the University of Athens, where her main field is juvenile sociology and the sociology of education. Her husband, Professor Antonis Kaltsounis, works at the National Technical University of Athens. His field: planning and operations in traffic and transportation.
They Met while in Graduate School
The Greek couple, both academics, enjoy visiting Berlin often. It is the city of their youth, where they met, in 1976. “He was a student and was working as a waiter at a Greek tavern on Savignyplatz,” she recalls. “We were married a year later, in Greece,” he says. That means they celebrated their 25th (silver) wedding anniversary a few years ago.The fact that both of them earned their doctorates at Freie Universität the same year – in 1988 – was due to chance and circumstances, Kaltsounis says. He had already earned a doctorate, in engineering, at Technische Universität Berlin. He then went on to the Otto Suhr Institute at Freie Universität, where he wrote another dissertation, this one in political science, under Professor Elmar Altvater. It was entitled Probleme der staatlichen Planung in Griechenland (Problems of State Planning in Greece). At the Institute of Sociology, Nova-Kaltsouni’s dissertation title was Sozialstruktur und Kriminalität. Das Beispiel der griechischen Jugenddelinquenz (Social Structure and Criminal Activity. The Example of Greek Juvenile Delinquency); she was also working on current issues in their shared home country.
A Family Tradition
The alumni celebrating their shared anniversary reflected the broad range of subjects represented at Freie Universität. Professor Sofia Kotzabassi, from Thessaloniki, is in the field of Ancient Studies. Monika Pawlik, in turn, earned her doctorate in chemistry and now does research in the United States on the topic of dementia. Volker Rabaa, from Stuttgart, wrote his dissertation in law under Professor Jutta Limbach, who became Senator for Justice in Berlin in 1989. Salamat Khandker studied medicine and now works for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Bangladesh. During the ceremony presenting the certificates to mark the alumni’s 25th anniversary, Professor Peter-André Alt, the president of Freie Universität, made special mention of one alumna celebrating with the rest of them: Carola Kubicki, a physician. Her father, Stanislaw Karol Kubicki, was the very first student to enroll at Freie Universität, in 1948, with the student ID number 1. After his undergraduate studies and doctorate, he became a professor of neurology here.
Attorney Volker Rabaa, who had come to the event with his wife, Marina, and daughter Annika, was impressed by the talk given by fellow alumnus Professor Michael Giersig, of the Institute of Experimental Physics at Freie Universität. Although he does not work in the field, he was still very interested in the topic, “Nanomaterials and Their Use in the Biomedical Sector.” Rabaa said, “It’s important to always stay curious.”
Keeping in Touch...
Since 2006, Freie Universität Berlin has been inviting its alumni to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their doctorates, called the Silberne Promotion. The 50th anniversary, or Goldene Promotion, celebrations have been held since 2002. These festivities are intended to re-honor those who earned doctorates at Freie Universität.
Did you or someone you know also complete a doctorate at Freie Universität Berlin, and would you or they like to attend one of the upcoming 25th or 50th anniversary celebrations? If so, please contact the Alumni Office of Freie Universität via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!