Tales of Taylorians : Students in Action

[by Aaron lim]

Photography by Elise Chen

ETC. Magazine stopped by the first iLEAD Conference organized by Taylor’s Life Skills Development last Saturday to bring you our latest installment of Tales of Taylorians. In addition to getting to know the stories behind the individual, in this series, we also look into student leaders and what drives them to succeed. These are students of action, in action.

We try to keep the text as similar to the conversation style as possible, with minor edits for clarity.

Morris Maheson

  • International Business and Marketing
  • Taylor’s University Photography Club – Vice President
  • E&I Club – Marketing Committee
  • (Partner) International Student Council

I see you’re Vice President for the photography club. So, what is a key characteristic of a leader?

I think the most important thing would be a person with a powerful influence and a person who is capable of holding any position. But to me, positions don’t really matter – you just have to know how to play your role right as well as bring the whole committee together in the club.

Teamwork is the most essential thing, because without a team, I don’t think you can function. Working solo…depends if you’re a very individualistic person. Still, the best way to run is being in a team. So EXCOs and board of directors, they are there for a reason. When you work together, becoming a unit, things become smoother.

That’s true. What about you instead, can you tell us some memorable moments in your life?

I think the best would be uni life in general, meeting new people, meeting new faces. I think the best exposure I got was through my international friends, they’ve opened a really wide scope for me to learn from compared to the locals I usually mixed [with] for a good part of my study life. The internationals have really brought a new phase to my world. I have learnt a lot from them and [from] applying their points of view in my life. The biggest lesson I feel is the willingness to be more open, and to accept different cultures and  different aspects of how they usually carry out their things.

Ngo Yih Yang

Ngo Yih Yang

  • Software engineering
  • Agents of TECH – Logistics Director
  • TEDx Speaker Management team & Audio Visual team
  • MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center)
  • ONs Application

Estelle Kee

  • Software engineering
  • Agents of Tech – Treasurer
  • Global Ambassador
  • Taylor’s Orientation Leader
  • Scholars at Work
  • ONs Application

We caught up with the pair after they pitched their idea for an application called ONs at iLEAD.

Estelle : How this app came about, well… we have a lot of club meetings and we have a hard time finding the right time or the right location which caters to everyone. Somehow it just relates to our activities around campus, we have so many activities, whatsapp groups and Facebook events, it just gets hard to organize and manage. Hence came about this idea to have one centralized application which integrates both the phone contacts as well as your social media contacts so that you can just manage everything in one app.

How is life as a Taylor’s student?

Yih Yang : I think Taylor’s is quite good because they have a lot of activities, a lot of opportunities, because you will never know who we will get contacted by next. One year ago, through Estelle, I actually found this event, TEDx. So, with nothing to do, I signed up. I was selected to be a volunteer, [and] that’s when I actually met Ms. Mallory. Who would have thought, one year later she would become my mentor. So you have to try things out, don’t complain that there’s no opportunity if you actually don’t try any opportunity that exists. Don’t be so picky.

So you guys know each other for a long time?

Yih Yang : Since the first year of degree. We work together in assignments as well. Because the thing about a team is you cannot have everyone in your team to have only a single skillset. You have to have people with different skills and you combine all of them together. So if you actually notice the slides of our presentation, most of the slides are actually done by her but I’m the one who elaborates on them.

Estelle : I think I’m more of the planning part, and he’s the talkative one.
Duncan Tsen

Duncan Tsen

  • School of Computing
  • E&I Club – Marketing Committee
  • Agents of Tech – Marketing Committee
  • Imagine Hack – Marketing Committee
  • Scholars Ambassador
  • Muay Thai club member
  • FeedOn Application

Duncan had also pitched his application, FeedOn at the conference. FeedOn’s mission is to fight food scarcity among the less fortunate.

How do you feel after presenting your idea?

I won’t say I’m not nervous but I’m happy that finally there’s a platform for me to convey my idea to the world. A platform for people to listen to what I have to say.

So how did you come up with the idea for your app?

It’s all kind of in the moment you know. I just thought, oh, there’s this problem, why not I find out a way to solve it? It became an obsession over time. The thing is, you have to do a lot, a lot of research on like food waste, how it impacts the community, how it impacts the environment, how much the government spends to dispose of this food waste.

What would you say is an important skill for someone like you having many different responsibilities for many different interests?

I try to prioritize things that are very important, like, to be involved in these sorts of things you have to know which one is important like your studies and your club meetings and everything. So for example [if] I have two meetings on the same day I try to either reschedule or I get one of my members to substitute me and he’ll update me later. But the most important thing is, do not lose your trust [worthiness]. Meaning, if you keep on ffk [not showing up] people right, it’s not a good thing. So even if you miss a meeting, you get frequent updates and do what is required of your job.

What’s the happiest moment of your life?

Hmm, okay. I know it’s bit cliche but the happiest moment in my life would be being able to join Taylor’s because previously I joined a private college in Sarawak. I actually finished my Diploma and the thing is the culture there is just study, go home. Study, go home. There’s not much of a platform for students to shine. So when I came to Taylor’s, I should say I’m lucky to be in the right course, computing, where it gives me a lot of opportunities to do what I like, which is aspiring to be an entrepreneur. Computing has given me a platform to showcase my skills because our lecturers actually encourage us to join competitions and there are a lot of clubs in Taylor’s where you can join to improve your communication skills, leadership skills and teamwork.

I aspire to be an entrepreneur. My idol is actually Elon Musk. I want to be like him. I don’t want to be like the 99% of the people who just graduate, go off to work. We have a really short life, why not make something, create, impact the world before you leave. After my diploma, I actually interned at Honda for 3 months and after the internship, you would normally ask yourself what’s next right? So I ask my friends that work with me at Honda, ‘So what do you guys wanna do after graduation’, and they were like, ‘continue at Honda lah,’ …and salary there is really low because this was in Miri. The starting salary was RM 800. Just that. If you’re lucky within, you know, 5 years, it will scale up to… a thousand something? Yeah, so, I  actually asked them is that what you really want in life, you just want to earn a little bit of money to lead a simple life and the answer was quite shocking, they’re like ‘Yeah, why not. I got a stable job, and that’s what I want’ and that got me thinking I don’t really want that sort of life.

Chen Zi Juin

Chen Zi Juin

  • Finance and Economics
  • MAD.TU President
  • E&I Club member

We want to build a community of students who care about themselves, about their people and societal issues. Our club specifically is more about do-good events. This is where you get a sense of empowerment when they want to start an initiative so MAD.TU provides that platform for students to do their projects. So we have pitching sessions for them to  pitch their ideas, then we can work on their plans.

As a president of a club, what is a good characteristic of a leader?

Being a member of E&I has taught me a lot about positive attitude. Like, no matter what, your plans will never go according to plan no matter how much time you spent on that phase. Being a project manager or even a president of a club requires a lot of flexibility. You have to be constantly thinking of solutions instead of just the problems. You have to be the motivator of your team. A lot of the speakers were talking about how to build your team and [that you] shouldn’t blame your team for any wrongdoings because at the end of the day as the project manager or the president, you have the responsibility to tell people your vision and make sure they get it clear. So if they don’t deliver it’s partly your fault also. Jeez… a lot of it is your fault because you have to know who is involved with what. Positive attitude is a very good motivator, one, for your team members and two, for yourself to solve problems as well. So that is something that I would really want to work on.

Do you have any strategies for motivation?

I think a big factor for motivation stems from the culture you have in your club, for example in E&I club it’s very family-oriented. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but we help each other out no matter what and we’re just very open about things.

Being clear on what you want is also a very important characteristic. If you’re not clear on what you want when you are a leader how do you expect your member to deliver the things that you want? Maintaining good relationships with people, that’s very important. Always treat people nicely, because throughout my projects a lot of people have helped us out, whether it’s within the members or even outsiders. Like when I get stressed or don’t know how to do something, then you have to ask, like, the advisors, you have to ask some friends, like how do they handle their clubs and it’s during the most difficult times where they say you see who your friends are. You start seeing people come in and helping you, giving you advice and asking if you’re stressed out. So always be willing to help others and always appreciate them.

Said Azizov

Said Azizov

  • Hotel Management
  • Accounting Club – Events Director
  • Global Ambassadors
  • Career ambassadors
  • SHINE Program

I used to never care about anything, I was just going to classes at Taylor’s and having fun with friends and stuff. After I went on internship I realized there’s no difference between me and other people. So what I did, I came back, reevaluated everything and realized there’s so many opportunities and that I’m paying so much money, so I need to take something from it. For example, when I’m in this club, I’ll get to know about another club. It’s all about networking. You network with people, you get to know new things, and you get to be a part of these new things.

Some people have talents, they can sing, they can be great singers. Dance, become great dancers. For people like me who don’t have these great talents, it’s all about hard work and…   hard work. I don’t know if I can sing or not, but I will try, I will fail, I will reflect on it, I will then do some other things. That’s how you do it, it’s all about hard work for me.

Any memorable moments happen recently?

When I was in Malaysia, I realized you have to watch your mouth anytime and every time no matter who’s around you.When I was in the hotel elevator and there was a woman, she didn’t look similar so I thought she was from another country. So I was making jokes with my friend in Russian so I thought she wouldn’t understand. Until the moment she turned to us, and she was so pissed off, she was so angry. She told us off in our language and that’s the time I realized you should be careful. That was a very funny moment, till today me and my friend sometimes remember it.

What’s the happiest moment in your life?

The happiest moment in my life was in 2002, 3rd January, when my little sister was born.You have dogs, you have cats and you come home, you have a little human on the bed. [laughs] That was the happiest moment in my life.

Sarah Ngai

Sarah Ngai

  • Diploma in Communications
  • Student Council member
  • 30-Hour Famine DIY Camp 2015 – Committee Member

What are important characteristics for an individual to succeed or lead?

I believe that being someone who is positive and passionate of doing something or being someone is important. Because, if you can’t motivate yourself, who is going to motivate you? If you are not passionate of what you want to achieve, how could you possibly influence other to work along with you.

That’s very true. So what is the happiest moment in your life?

Hm… let’s just say it didn’t happen happily, but back in 2013, I was in a car crash. The car flipped, turned turtle. It was very lucky for us, for the whole family. We came out literally crawling out the car with no bruises, no injuries. The moment when we came out, cause I was the very first one who came out, cause I manage to kick the door, the bus was just right at the back and I was very thankful that the bus driver was aware and attentive. So thank God. So it was just us there, quite literally in the middle of the highway. So that was really something I would say that I would never ever forget because it was a start of something new.

How did that accident change your life?

I think it changes me in term of being more positive in life. A lot of people tend to rage everyday on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram but the thing is what you’re facing now is not really such a big thing as compared to other people that is outside in the world, which they themselves would feel lucky enough to be in your place already. So I think we have to appreciate this chance given to us by God and our parents. Especially for Taylor’s students because it’s a really exclusive area and we pay more expensive fees as compared to other universities.

I realize that the common theme with all these students is their drive and purpose to go out there and achieve the things they want. They go the extra mile and attend events to network and meet. They keep a lookout for good opportunities and are grateful when it comes. They think deeply about what the future holds and they realize the value of hard work to achieve their goals. I sincerely wish them all the best in their endeavors.

All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.

– Brian Tracy

Get connected with the various clubs and projects these students are in to get updates on their latest happenings.

By ETC. Magazine

ETC. Online is the Taylor’s University online campus magazine, entirely operated by students of Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus. The ETC. online magazine is an offshoot of ETC. Magazine, a club run by TULC students and supported by the university.

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