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Lynette Chang, President of Uni-Y SMU, is one of the rare student leaders in SMU who have dedicated all of university life to developing and empowering youth.

What started out as a desire for community involvement quickly grew into a full role for Lynette when she became the Director of Marketing and Publicity within months of joining, and rose to Vice Presidency for the Holistic Enrichment arm after a year.

Given her passion for youth development and her heart for the community, Lynette was a shoo-in for President. “My past two years with the team help me to better oversee club operations and nurture relationships with my fellow leaders from NTU and NUS.”

Heart for the community 

Lynette is shaping Uni-Y to fill the gaps in the community. In 2015, while volunteering at Y Food of Love, where Uni-Y members prepare food packs to gift to the underprivileged, she met with an encounter that till today, reminds her to be vigilant in showing care to the people around her.

“Back then, when we went door to door to hand out gift packs, the typical scenario was for homeowners to cheerily come out to greet us,” Lynette explains, “there was this apartment that we kept knocking at, but yielded no response. After some time, a neighbour informed us that the occupant had passed away just the week before, and that there might not have been anyone around for the deceased then. My heart sank.”

This incident made Lynette realise that there are many elderly in Singapore who are alone and without anyone to care for them. “We often think that poverty refers to people who are without food, shelter or clothing. But, the greatest poverty lives amongst those who are without love.”

Again, in 2016, Lynette learned the value of community. It was during the mid-term period when she was doing a site recce. She encountered a crowd huddled behind a police cordon beneath a university residential block – a student had committed suicide. “I asked myself what could have happened. During this stressful exam period, did the student have anyone to talk to, or was there a community that he could turn to? It struck me that we need to be that community to somebody. A little care and concern goes a long way.”

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A culture of care

These incidents have inspired the direction for Uni-Y SMU in 2017 – to build a strong ExCo that will nurture a family culture of care within the club, to spread positivity to the wider community.

“Leaders can set the direction, but if members don’t have the same vision and heartbeat, the goals can never be achieved”. Lynette is thankful that many team members cited wanting to be part of a family as the main motivation for joining Uni-Y SMU. When asked how she plans to forge this family spirit, Lynette replies, “by being intentional in our relationships. We genuinely care about what is going on in each other’s lives, have meals together, study together, and do the simple things that allow us to spend quality time together.”

Lynette also stresses the importance of being vulnerable and accountable. “We are open with each other about our struggles and needs, so that we know when people are in need of encouragement, and can be pro-active in doing the little things that make all the difference.” Since implementing the plans to shape the team, Lynette has witnessed the changes occur steadily across the team, volunteer members, and influence the wider community.