Interview with Carolin Heimes, Supervisor of EaT Aachen, Germany

New group founded at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen: Medical student Carolin Heimes (18) is attempting to make peer-to-peer education a reality in the university town of Aachen. Her goal: for as many 10–15 year old school children to be taught about smoking by medical students as possible. As a first step, Carolin is currently canvassing for co-campaigners among her fellow students in the lecture theatre and in online groups. As well as that, she’s currently organizing patients and enlisting the first schools. To find out more about the ambitions of the young student, I conducted an interview with her.


Carolin, why are you involved in the EAT project?


‘The concept behind EAT convinced me straight away. As a medical student, you are aware of the effects of tobacco on the body, but also particularly on the development of children and young people. But campaigns related to the subject are often not well received by children and young people. In my opinion, as a student, when you’ve not been out of school all that long yourself, you’re in a much better position to act as a role model and communicate facts to young people on a different level than a teacher.


‘For me, prevention is one of the most important pillars of medicine and therefore I was immediately convinced that medical students should campaign for school children’s education and to protect them from the dangers of tobacco.’


Young people is a key phrase: do you want to specialize in that area?


‘As I’m still just at the beginning of my studies, I can’t really answer that question objectively. At the moment I’m leaning towards children’s medicine and pediatrics, which has obviously has an impact on my decision to start working with EAT.


You’re still right at the beginning in Aachen, but in the long term the project will become part of the curriculum at RWTH. What do you currently see as your biggest challenge for the launch?


‘The biggest challenge for me, will be making contacts, who will be important for the local group here in Aachen. Because I haven’t been living here all that long myself, I’ll need to find out where the potential school groups in Aachen are first. But I’m sure that we’ll get a great team together and hopefully we’ll soon be able to record our first successes.’


What do you do otherwise in your free time?


‘In my free time, I also like music. I’ve been playing the piano for 13 years, sing in a choir and dance Forró (a Brazilian partner dance). I go to the opera and theater regularly and I’m generally very culturally engaged. I also like to cook with friends, jog and like going to the gym. There’s not time for much more with my degree, because I still need to find my way a little bit first.


Thank you for the interview and good luck with the launch of EAT in Aachen!


About the person: Carolina Heimes (18) is in the second semester of her degree in Medicine at RWTH Aachen. Before going to university she was an altar server in the church and one of the heads of the student council. She is the recipient of a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation as a result of her academic achievements.


More information about the group in Aachen: