Shahandyka, Shah for short, is the current president for Monash University Student Association (MUSA) 2016. Shah, born in Singapore but bred in Johor, did his primary and secondary school in Singapore which he then proceeded to serve National Service in Singapore Police Force for 2 years. Shah pursued his pre-university studies under Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY) in Sunway College, Johor then went to Monash University Malaysia.

Shah is currently a business student in his Year 3. Although he has no singing talents, he enjoys playing futsal, soccer and also reads a lot of self help and motivational books. Aside from that, Shah also earns a side income with his love for tutoring students. Shah is passionate for organising things thus he organises camps for children in Johor. According to Shah, keeping his plate full is what he intends to do as there will be no time wasted. Indeed it is tiring, but at the end of the day, he leads a very fulfilling and purposeful life.

Let’s hear a few words from him.

  • Was becoming a MUSA president a plan you had in mind for some time?

Yes, basically all in all when I actually started my path in Monash, I always make sure that I would have a theoretical plan as to what I want to achieve. And being in MUSA, people always say these kind of things where you get to have a good CV, a good resume but I strongly believe in also doing something worthwhile and purposeful which also gives back to the community, i.e the students. While I am in this phase in MUSA, of course there are a lot of other things you’d get out of it: you discover yourself as an individual, you capitalise in your strength, you work on your weaknesses, and many more. All in all, it’s about contributing back to students, it’s doing something worthwhile and when you look back at that journey, you can say that “At least I tried to do something to give back for the students and hopefully it did make a difference.” So I guess you could say yes, I did plan to run for MUSA. When I first came to university, I didn’t know many people. Like I said, I was from Singapore and at that point of time (MUSA Student Council 2014), I saw they were welcoming us, and through the activities, I immersed myself in the student experience in Monash. From there, I transitioned from being this lonely guy from Singapore to meeting so many different new people. And one more reason is because I did run as a president in the Student Council back in Johor. Definitely was never going to be an easy task, but like I said as the first point about telling myself, at the end of the day at least you try to do something and there’s a very strong sense of fulfilment in doing it.

  • Generally, what does a MUSA president do in one sentence…?

In one sentence, I would say that a MUSA president coordinates and is the driver of the entire Monash Student Council to ensure the smooth operational function to serve the students of Monash.

  • How do you manage between being a MUSA president and also juggling other activities(e.g.. studying, tutoring, socialising…)?

Of course, I won’t lie to you that’s an opportunity cost because having taken the role of MUSA president, the commitment levels are pretty high. Not saying that I have to give up my social life or academics completely, but it’s more of balancing. I have to play around with my time. For example, during the peak period of MUSA then I’ve to allocate more time for MUSA. Whereas during the peak period of exams and midterms then I’ll have to allocate more time for that. I strongly believe in this principle whereby when you have lesser time for something, like when I have just one aspect that I’ve to focus on i.e assignments, and I know I have 2 weeks to do it, there will be a tendency for you to procrastinate. But when you actually have your time spread out, and you know you have lesser time for something, I always believe that lesser time equals to more productivity. So when I have lesser time for my assignments, because of my MUSA commitment and also tutoring students and what not, I know that I have to utilise this time well. You know that concept where “oh I have an assignment due tomorrow”, so you stay up the whole night. Yeah, that concept when you apply it to MUSA, your academics, and whatever aspects in your life, you’ll realise that you’ll be efficient. I’m not sure if it’s applicable to everyone, but theoretically that’s what I learn back in Johor and I’ve applied it here in Monash. So far, I don’t want to jinx it, it’s been going pretty well. So, the lesser time you have for something and you actually recognise the urgency for it and you actually set your mind to doing it and complete it. And when you get one aspect done, it kind of motivates you even more and more fulfilling to get another one done. Of course things might not go according as planned but generally speaking most of the time, that’s how it is. When you don’t do anything at all, you feel very unproductive, very lethargic, very restless. When you have a lot to do, of course it’s more fulfilling. But having too much on your plate can also have a setback if you can’t cope and if one aspect fails and the rest starts to fail. So like I said, it’s all about balance.

  • What are some of the sacrifices you made by being president?

My family is in Johor. So prior to this, I did go back to Johor, you could say, once or twice a month. But being in MUSA, commitments level are very high. Let’s just say during the weekdays, I commit a lot of time to MUSA, then weekends I will be catching up with my academics. Because I have to cover for that aspect of academics, then I have to forego meeting my family back in Johor and that is something really crucial and important for me because I’m really close to my parents and my sister back in Johor. For me, it’s a sacrifice that I’m willing to undertake because I know I’m doing something that is meaningful and purposeful and at the same time. The way I look at is, I’ll probably go back to Johor once in two months, or four to six weeks. When I go back to Johor during that short period of time, it makes it more meaningful. So, I don’t look at it in a very negative manner. One more thing I guess, it’s social life. I used to have a lot of futsal sessions prior to MUSA (twice or thrice a week). Now, it’s just once a month/two weeks haha..

  • What’s the best memory you have being a president so far?

Wow, there’s a lot of memories… but I guess the most memorable one would be working together with Sunway University and Taylor’s University to actually kickstart the Alliance which is a collaboration. Why it’s memorable is because throughout this period, of course I’ve been working within my own council and it’s something I enjoy doing, but venturing out to Sunway and Taylor’s is one step further. It kind of exposes me to different working styles, cultures, and people. And when you know you have three different groups of people with different systems coming together, it’s a challenge but also an opportunity and it equates to be a memorable experience. So, specifically, it’s the Alliance Music Festival.

  • And, what’s the worst..?

I won’t say one particular experience but there’s always a strong misconception about MUSA and you know, complaints coming in and all that.. So I won’t say it’s the worst experience but I would say it’s a challenge for MUSA. One of the greatest challenges is to actually get students to understand how MUSA operates and functions. It’s a challenge that I still look forward to and I’m working with our publicity officers to overcome it. But why I say it’s the most challenging one is because it’s just a culture that has been going on since the many semesters and years to come. Perhaps students don’t understand what their proper channels are and how MUSA can assist them or maybe certain things that it’s beyond MUSA jurisdiction. I would say in that sense, it’s a huge challenge – something that last year’s student council tried to overcome, something that we are trying to overcome and hopefully, if we do overcome, that’s good but if we don’t, hopefully next year’s council can overcome that and create a greater understanding of awareness of what MUSA is. I guess it’s not the worst experience, I would put it more towards the greatest challenge that MUSA is currently facing right now.

  • What’s one dish that you miss from Singapore?

Oooo. This one I’ve got to think. The rest all came out naturally but hmm, *pauses to think… Oh! I used to go to this really nice nasi lemak place at Adam Road.

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Photos credit to migrationology.com

And then there is one.. what do you call in English? Like the Sup Tulang, the red one at one of the hawker centres.. Beach Road!

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Photo credit to griyawisata.com

Because that, I don’t think I’ve found a good one in KL or Subang. I used to go on casual lunch/dinner dates with my ex-girlfriend and friends over there. I was actually introduced to it late you know, like when I was 17 or 18. But when I was introduced to it, I liked it a lot.

  • Any last words for the next year’s president?

I would say for next year’s president and for the council, in general, just put your heart into it. The fact that you are actually running for elections and if you got it, that’s already one step forward. But to take up that challenge, you must be able to commit yourself to it. So, remember all the promises that you’ve made, the pledge and the commitments you are willing to undertake. So yes, undertakes your roles with passion and dedication. And when things get tough, that’s the whole process of you growing, stepping out of your comfort zones and don’t give up. At the end of the day, it’s going to be a very fulfilling one.

Hidayah Azhar is a current Computer Science undergraduate student with a strong passion for fashion and beauty. She has been writing for nearly 3 years on her blog composing of product reviews, tutorials, and more often than not, she shares her daily musings with her readers too. Her inspirations are usually fashion and beauty bloggers around the world like Willabelle Ong from Pale Division, Lilia Kazakova from Lily-like, and the famous twins from Malaysia, Cherrie Mun and Evangeline Yan from Duo Gigs. She is usually seen coding with one hand, and applying lipstick with another.


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