By Tan Si Jia
12 February 2018
Ever wondered what the potentially reclusive NTU Students’ Union (NTUSU) Executive Committee does in its work to make events happen, and enhance the voice, service and vibrancy of the NTU community? In this edition, we immerse ourselves in the experiences and defining challenges of the members of EXCO who were both new to NTUSU as well as NTU itself – none other than the freshmen. Their words offer a refreshing perspective on what it means to have the skills and the heart to serve the NTU undergraduate community.
Their experiences (and defining challenges)
After a long day of school, Lee Yan Ling, NTUSU’s Human Resource Executive (HRE), greeted us with her calm and cheerful demeanour. The opportunity to join EXCO was something she grabbed the moment it came along, as she put it, “I felt a strong motivation to join (NTU)SU, as my impression of University life is very vibrant and I wanted to be a part of the people planning all these things.”
Denise Jang, the Business Projects Executive (BPE), outlined her motivation in serving the NTU community.
“If I join NTUSU, I can help the whole school,” Denise explained, summing it up succinctly.
She confessed that stress was a big part of her journey as an EXCO member, and she had to find the tenacity and confidence to lead fellow Ussociates who were, technically speaking, her seniors in NTU. “After some time, I got the hang of it, and experience helped (me) to get through it,” she said. What pushed her to grow out of her comfort zone was simple – experience. That, along with a dose of courage, gave her the chutzpah to assert herself comfortably and get work done with her fellow committee members.
“After some time, I got the hang of it, and experience helped (me) to get through it,” – Denise Jang, Business Projects Executive
On his initial months in NTUSU, the Corporate Communications Executive (Relations), Nicholas Teo, commented, “It was tough, very tough. The spirit of service got me through that tough period.” As a Year 1 student, he faced the same obstacles that confront freshmen, and more. “When I ran for the position, it coincided with the period of adapting to the rigorous pace of academic work in my NIE course, as well as the work of setting up a new portfolio… The commitment required is heavy, but if you find the work fulfilling, it will take you a very long way.”
Working partners, and friends
“(We are) faced with the same problems, we can understand one another. Now we are more like confidantes, friends.” That is how Yan Ling explains the dynamic of friendships formed in NTUSU. Nicholas insisted that friends were the ones who helped him through this arduous yet fulfilling journey, saying, “Do not underestimate the power of friendships that you will find in your journey!”
“(We are) faced with the same problems, we can understand one another. Now we are more like confidantes, friends.” – Lee Yan Ling, Human Resource Executive
From work partners to companions – and then confidantes – these are the words of most, if not all the EXCO members who work with each other, each day. Coping with the same mess of issues was an unexpected salve for bridging the initial gap between people who didn’t know each other well. From different schools and backgrounds, everyone found it in themselves to be open, and be kind to one another.
Advice to those intending on taking up leadership roles
Amanda Foong, the Finance Executive, had this to say about taking up the mantle of leadership: “Follow (your) heart and passion to serve. We gain the most when we simply give, and don’t think about benefiting ourselves.” Yan Ling further added, “Be open minded, willing to learn and commit!” The EXCO members expressed optimism in the challenge of being a leader, while acknowledging the extra mile required in pursuing larger interests that concern an entire community of students.
Amanda understands the nuanced balance required to do one’s job well in both schoolwork and the work of a leader. It is possible to balance both – as long as you are disciplined, and manage your time well. “(It) all boils down to time management… it is possible to strike a balance between EXCO commitments and your school workload – you just have to stick to your plans, not procrastinate and find the discipline from within to get things done.”
A final word of advice Nicholas offered was this: “Figure out what you have to offer, and then put it to as good use as you can, in any capacity you can.” The members’ work in NTUSU has opened new doors and perspectives, and their words offer sage advice to any and all who express the heart to serve – and lead.
Nicholas Teo contributed reporting.