From one student to another – What it takes to be above average

An interview of Sunway student – Raenuga Indran by Yumitra Kannan

Being a student is a tough feat for many of us and that includes me. Personally, I’ve had about three breakdowns in the last week as deadlines kept flowing in. Sometimes it feels like I’m thrashing in harsh waters, trying not to drown. It’s during these phases when I look at the above average students whom I know and wonder to myself: how do they do it? How do they handle so many different commitments so flawlessly? 

I’m guessing you can relate to this to some extent. Maybe your head is nodding in vehement agreeance, maybe you’re already above average and want to do some harmless comparing, or maybe you don’t really care. Nevertheless, I know I belong to the group gaping at the wunderkinds on campus. Really! How do these selected few manage it? They’re like the Avengers of the academic world or something. 

image6

Well, it’s time to meet the real deal: Raenuga Indran, a very popular and beloved gem of Sunway University and one of the most well-rounded and holistic students I’ve personally met. From being a scholar and a talented Psychology student to being active in extracurriculars, leading and advising student leadership bodies, talking at Sunway University’s TedX and running campaigns and leading projects about the Sustainable Development Goals which she is passionate about, Raenuga is truly the embodiment of Natasha Romanoff in Endgame – holding everything together even with her personal breakdowns (and honestly they have like, the same face shape). 

image8
Source

Often referred to as the “Sustainable Girl” you would have probably come across Raenuga or her achievements because of her long list of involvements in Sunway’s extracurricular endeavors. Raenuga was/is a part of teams like Sunway HPAIR Society, Center for Asia Leadership, Sunway Student Ambassadors, Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations Conference as well as the group which made the ‘Bras Are Not For Bins’ campaign. Her need to be active and her passion for education and the environment has fueled many of her choices in the last few years and has inspired her to become a force to be reckoned with.

image9
Source

Let us dive straight into the works of how this pretty normal student pushes herself to achieve extraordinary feats as we bring to you a guide to being an above average student from one herself.

Tips and Tricks for Academics

When asked how she handles her education along with all her extracurricular and external commitments, these were the tricks and tips Raenuga had to offer to her fellow students- 

  • Find your Style! 

It’s because of having found my style that I find it manageable to handle so many different commitments. Through experimentation, I learnt how I work and what are the study techniques and coping mechanisms that suit me. This helps me pace myself and not get too panicky or be too laid back. Knowing your style will enhance your efficiency though discovering it requires you to go through a tedious process of trial and error. So get to it as quickly as you can. 

  • Environment is Key! 

Getting the right group of friends is beyond important. I personally hang with academically driven people, friends who hold me accountable for meeting deadlines and getting work done. This is super helpful as we tend to give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to work; we are quite nice to ourselves;  and that leads to procrastination. Hence, having the right people around will push you to hustle rather than give up.

  • Killing the Procrastinator In Us! 

There are many ways to overcome procrastination though the best method which works well for me personally is keeping my phone far far away. Being someone who is addicted to scrolling through Instagram stories, the best way to keep my fingers off the screen is to use an app called Forest. 

Forest is a free mobile app that lets you plant virtual trees and collect coins till you can use the collected coins to plant a tree in real life. It works in a way where you set the time limit for your mobile-detox and avoid using it for that set time period. If you succeed, you get coins. If you don’t, you kill a tree and all your friends will know you’re a murderer! This drives me to stay on track and away from my phone.                                                  

image1
 Source
  • The Retrospective Time Table Method!

This allows me to bring forward my timeline and set deadlines for all of my commitments a few days earlier from the actual due date. This ensures that I get things done on time with a decent amount of time to ensure my work is of quality. I don’t aim to be spectacular or poor in my studies, hence, maintaining the middle ground is just a matter of working smart. 

  • Know your Goals!

 I for one aim for a 70% average for my CGPA and having this goal in mind and pairing it up with the techniques that I’ve discovered which work well for me, I get to accommodate things accordingly. For example – focusing more on my assignments to score the maximum marks because I’m more of a coursework-person than an exam-person. This then leads to me only needing to do the bare minimum needed for exams so that I can get as much as I need done in the amount of time I’m given.  

image3
Source

The Reality of the World of Extracurricular Activities

Many different clubs, both on-campus and external commitments, how does Raenuga handle it? 

  • Extracurricular is not for everyone but if you’re someone like me – can’t sit still, easily bored, have a need to do more and want to experience and learn different things, then I strongly encourage you to give it a shot.
  • People ask me why I take on so much? But these are the things that make me, me and as much as they can break me with their overwhelming weight, these are also the tools that build me up and make me grow. Look at your encounters as a chance to become a refined version of yourself. 
image4
Enter a caption
  • I consider myself a Jack of Many Trades but Master of None 

Being average or slightly above average allows me to dip my hands into many different waters and experience different things. If you know who you want to be and find that stretching yourself thin during your younger years to encounter many different fields is something that will help you become the version of yourself which you dream about then learning to find a balance between being good but not getting stressed out is important. 

  • This isn’t really a trick but a tip that is completely up to you to use: being able to do a lot comes with sacrifices, mainly sacrificing your sleep and a social life. It isn’t really advisable but I do it to reap the fruits later on and you can choose to do that too.

It is quite impossible to talk about Raenuga and not highlight the various campaigns and projects she has breathed life into. We, as students, tend to have aspirations and goals of achieving something similar but hardly have a clue about what it takes to make things happen. As such, Raenuga brings an insider’s perspective on what it takes to run a successful campaign like the ‘Bras Are Not For Bins’ campaign while still wearing the hat of a student. 

January – March 2019

The Bras Are Not For Bins campaign was started off by Raenuga and her friends as an initiative for their Community Project paper. Rather than pulling off a one-day service project, the team wanted to go for something more impactful even though it seemed quite far-fetched at that time. That was when the brilliant idea of running a recycle and upcycle campaign for second hand bras came up. 

image7

The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness about how bras can be recycled, encourage women to recycle their bras and provide those who don’t have access to bras with second hand bras. This goal was designed to be achieved through a collaboration with Neubodi, an organization which had already run a similar campaign. With guidance from Neubodi, Raenuga and her friends set up the campaign on campus and began collecting used and old bras. The bras could be in either good or bad condition as the good ones will be segregated accordingly and sent to rural areas in Africa and Nepal where women don’t have bras and struggle because of it while the ones in bad condition (like too stretched out) will be recycled and turned into fibre or biofuel pallets which will fuel cement kilns machines. 

The campaign wanted to provide women with an alternative to disposing their old bras and now they can choose to recycle it instead of letting it end up in landfill dumps. Bras are usually 100% recyclable – from the metal bits to the rubber and cloth. This way the issue of fashion waste is tackled efficiently. 

The struggles of the campaign were more about raising awareness among women that bras can be recycled and upcycled. This was hard because the project dealt with intimate apparels and was being conducted in the open area of a university campus. Breaking the stereotypes and stigmas that surround the subject was one of the toughest things to deal with. Eventually, the campaign served the purpose of raising awareness more than being a channel to recycle used bras as many had cleared their cupboards earlier following the Marie Kondo hype.

Secret Keys to Running a Successful Campaign As A Student

  • Essentially, when you want to run a project, you have to do your research to see who has the resources you need, who has done similar work before and who is willing to help you out at that very moment. Getting guidance, support and resources will give your project the much needed boost that you’re looking for.
  • Given that Neubodi didn’t really have a successful campaign of recycling bras themselves, my team and I studied their campaign, highlighted what we should follow and what to avoid before designing a stronger campaign. It’s important to build on tested ideas when you’re looking for quick and impactful results. 
  • Resilience and passion is needed excessively to strive through a project like this and this combo, often referred to as grit, is what will force you to hang on to a project that means so much to you but is so hard to materialize. Yes, it is a tiresome process but remember that it is worth going through all of that for the kind of personal growth that awaits you at the end. 
  • You’re a 21st century kid, so take it to the “streets”! Which, in this case, are social media platforms. As Raenuga recalled her project on addressing the issue of Bubble Tea Trash, she spoke about how she has raised awareness about the environmental crisis through Twitter multiple times. One of the biggest revolutions she kick-started was the pop up of local clean up trips where a bunch of individuals go out to nature and do clean-ups. Like hiking a hill and picking up trash while they descend or calling out Bubble Tea drinkers who overuse plastic bottles and straws. Raenuga has used Twitter as a tool to address these issues or at the very least, enlighten the public.
  • Last but not least, find something you’re passionate about to work on! There’s no better way to go about this. It is my passion for education and the environment which has pushed me to work on special projects with SSA and Rumah Juara in Puchong. The project I took part in aimed to equip underprivileged kids with holistic skills and not just academic skills; essentially, to sculpt them into scholars. 

IMG_20191022_224229.jpg

As I wrapped up my conversation with Raenu, I was able to summarize the gist of what she had to say as the willingness to grow. As students, we tend to stress ourselves out about everything that is happening to and around us. We look at assignments, tests, deadlines and extracurricular activities as a burden and get consumed by the thought of how life is exhausting or unfair or torturous. This then stops us from embracing the bittersweet journey of being a student. To be an above average student and a well-rounded one at that, requires you to do a lot. But, when you look at the world and the cards it deals you as opportunities to grow, you’ll definitely be able to excel over time ⎯ if not immediately ⎯ and achieve that higher self you keep envisioning. 

***

 

Recommended Articles