How do you juggle the many things that come our way— school, projects, CCAs, competitions, overseas community service trips, study missions, internships, and perhaps launching a startup or business? Not forget the rest of our lives, with relationships, family, holidays and late nights out with friends. We all know this way too well, as SMU students.

Mervin is no stranger to this question. He’s the president of SMU Verts. Together with his team, he also manages his business, The Pique Lab, a science enrichment centre for primary school kids. He was recently awarded with the HSBC-NYAA Youth Environmental Award 2016 Merit Award, and is one of this year’s SMU Excellence in Student Life Gold Award winners.

How does he juggle all these commitments? Mervin shares with us some of things that have helped him over the years.

Reliving Memories - Toa Payoh Dragon

SMU Verts created an art installation, “Reliving Memories: Toa Payoh Dragon Project”, and showcased it at The Up Market, an event held in Dec 2015 at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub. Made with used plastic bottle caps, the club aimed to showcase their efforts towards recycling plastic materials and at the same time, (re)capturing fond memories of the Toa Payoh Dragon playground.

Be fiercely passionate about what you do. Build an “A” Team. Manage one’s time and priorities effectively. These are the three key factors that have helped me manage all of my commitments, whether it’s school, my work at SMU Verts or even my business.

It’s so important to develop and nurture a strong passion for what you love. Building and leading a club, a project or a business can be really challenging. When you are passionate, you’re more focused on your goal. You’re energised and feel motivated about doing something meaningful. You may not notice this but it’ll help you achieve things outside your boundaries!

Treehugger Induction ExerciseBring Your Own Tumbler Day

The SMU Verts team!

Build an “A” Team. It’s extremely vital to have a strong team of people to carry things through, no matter what you’re doing. With committed teammates, we’re able to leverage on our strengths and achieve our goals in a shorter amount of time, and often, with greater impact.

It’s important to know your team well. Know what they care deeply about, what drives and motivates them. You’ve got to build trust and a strong bond with and amongst the team.

Seek out teammates who are inspiring, positive and supportive!
Youth Environmental Envoy Workshop Compressed

Participants of the Youth Environmental Envoy workshop

I’ve learnt so much about teamwork and project management during my time with the Youth Environmental Envoy workshop. This workshop was co-organised by SMU Verts and the National Environmental Agency (NEA). We brought together young leaders from local and regional tertiary institutions, from Cambodia, Brunei, Hong Kong and more, for a three-day workshop focusing on sustainability and environmental conservation.

It was especially rewarding and heartwarming to see many of the participants come up to us at the end of the workshop, to thank us for organising this workshop for them. They learnt a lot, made new friends and are inspired to make a change in their communities when they head home.

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Make sure to manage your time and priorities effectively. I use a planner myself. Before I start doing anything, I’ll rank my to-dos, based on their deadlines and their relative importance. I aim to complete all my given tasks every day. If I’ve got some time left over, I’ll work on interesting side-projects to reward myself!

As the mantra goes, “procrastination is the thief of time.”

I’ve scheduled my classes to be on only two days of the week. It’s not easy and you’ve got to be extremely focused and disciplined. This has really helped me to create more pockets of time to do the things I love— championing for environmentalism and entrepreneurship.

What’s one healthy habit I have? Sleep. This is very important. I usually try to get around eight hours of sleep, especially on days without school. This keeps me fresh and energised throughout the day. I usually sleep at a fixed time everyday (around midnight) and this helps me to maintain a regular sleep cycle.

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Our SMU Excellence in Student Life Gold Award winners, Lai SengTerena and Mervin.

On school days, I usually devote my evenings to my business, The Pique Lab: everything from replying parents, running marketing campaigns and developing our curriculum. We’re seeing massive growth during the past two years. We’ve worked with over a thousand students, and have generated a solid track record of 76.4% of our students scoring distinctions in PSLE Science. We’re developing our proprietary learning methodology, and aim to deliver our training programme to primary schools directly. We’re really excited about that.

Looking to the future, I plan to grow The Pique Lab and create an ecosystem of education-related firms around it. These would be a training wing to coach primary school teachers and affiliated tutors, an education technology firm to create new products to support teaching and learning, and a firm focused on voluntourism.

I plan to organise learning trips to Nepal for families, so that kids can broaden their horizons by learning more about the underprivileged, and how they can get involved, whether now or in the future. I’m inspired by my co-founder, Kenneth, who visited Nepal while he was on a SMU overseas community service project. He partnered with a local children’s home, and they’ve started a poultry and tomato farm together. We’ve been visiting Nepal regularly and have built a strong relationship with the kids over there.

It’s extremely empowering and uplifting to be able to do all this, with my club, business and community. Be passionate, build your “A” team, and manage your time and priorities as best you can. You’ll find that doing something meaningful will make all the time and energy spent worthwhile in the end!

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SMU Verts is Singapore Management’s official student platform for engaging in eco-friendly and sustainable activities. Their mission is to encourage our community to be environmentally responsible and live a sustainable lifestyle. Check them out on Facebook!

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU