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50 years of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences: The faces and stories

HSWT inside | Renate Erbe

"You often have to read between the lines to find out what someone needs"

Glued into her parents’ photo album is a picture of Renate Erbe standing in the Hofgarten on the Weihenstephan campus when she was a young girl. Today, the 57 year old works just a few metres away in an office overlooking the park-like setting in the university’s Student.Service. The Freising native has been at HSWT for 31 years – although she is actually a qualified physiotherapist. When she was 26 years old she saw the university job as an interim solution: "I couldn’t work full time in my chosen profession due to a health condition so I went on the search for an office job for the afternoons."

 

In her position in the student secretariat, today "Student Affairs", she spoke to young people primarily about work. In addition, she felt at home right from her interview and already knew the green campus – it was simply a good fit. And it still is today – that’s why Renate Erbe not only happily accepted the part-time job back then, but has stayed in the position for over three decades now. When she talks about her work, it’s obvious that she puts her heart and soul into it.

 

Serving the students

Renate Erbe moved to Student.Service when it was created as part of the Student Affairs department in 2008 following restructuring measures. Another colleague joined her two years ago. Student.Service is the primary point of contact for HSWT students, applicants and prospective students. Renate Erbe and her colleague answer study-related questions, accept documents, help fill out applications, issue certificates and refer people to the correct internal or external contact person. "We generally have a sympathetic ear for everything that affects the students. Service means 'the action of helping or doing work for someone' – and that’s how I view my job," Renate Erbe emphasises. "However, we can only provide optimum service when we work well together in a team with the department clerks. Together we can accomplish everything."

Simply be there

 

Renate Erbe still greatly enjoys working with young people today. To support them in their current life stage, to be there for them – it’s her thing. "You have to have a sympathetic ear and be able to really listen. You often have to read between the lines to find out what someone needs." She says that many of the people looking for support also tell her about their private issues that, at first glance, have nothing to do with their studies. "It is important to me to let them know: 'You are not alone'." If they are not able to resolve the situation in the department, Renate Erbe and her colleagues refer the students to one of the many specialised points of contact in their network.

There are of course also moments of pure joy in Student.Service: "We also have people that start cheering here," laughs Renate Erbe. It also brings her joy when someone she has advised calls her later on and thanks her for her support.

She and her colleague have to quickly adjust to each new caller or visitor they receive: "Each person is in a completely different situation. This requires us to react to them in different ways." She likes this: she is simply interested in people, she says. "And then we have parents of students who come to us with various concerns," says Renate Erbe who, herself, is a mother to one daughter. "Some enquiries make more sense than others – but we are there for everyone and take each call seriously," she stresses.

Renate Erbe – she cares, she listens, she finds solutions and is always open to everyone: how does she create balance in her life and make time for herself? She enjoys "pedalling" herself away from everyday life on bicycle tours, for example, such as the Alpe-Adria-Trail from Carinthia to Grado. "You experience nature in a completely different way on your bike," she says. "And you experience some things much more intensively on this slower way of travelling." Furthermore, Renate Erbe likes to indulge in her musical side: she enjoys going to rock and world music concerts, and knows the music scene in Freising well. She even picks up an instrument herself: she has played the saxophone for ten years now – but just does this for herself.