Journey of Opportunities
Story by: Chloe Tan
Photos by: Cheryl Lee
Nanyang Polytechnic: The innovative polytechnic.
A testament of the school’s tagline is 21-year-old Cheryl Lee, an alumnus from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). Cheryl graduated with a Diploma in Business Management in 2016 at the School of Business Management (SBM).
Being an advocate for waste minimisation, she has the belief that there is always a better alternative for the waste around us. Paired with her love for creativity, this opened up many opportunities for her during her time in NYP, allowing her to build up an impressive portfolio and more importantly, honing her skills in her passion.
“When you put old items together, it will transform into a new product with value and of better use, and you are giving things a second life,” says Cheryl.
Her mentality was the catalyst that led her towards her non-academic journey at NYP. When she first heard that there was an innovation competition by Bayers on environmental sustainability, she took an interest in joining it. Incidentally, she also joined the co-curricular activity Geo Council as they had organised an eco-innovation workshop to qualify for the Bayers competition
“I wanted to join the competition, as I saw how problems could be solved through creativity. I’ve always wanted to reduce waste, and I’ve always taken different products to form banners. Later, from the workshop, I learnt that what I was doing was called upcycling,” says Cheryl.
With her continued passion for the environment, it is no surprise that she later took on the role of the president of the Geo Council in her third year of studies. During her term, Cheryl was also mentored as a Youth Environmental Envoy (YEE) for the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Speaking on her experience as a YEE, Cheryl says excitedly: “I managed to see the environment as a whole and a bigger picture. How to solve wastage problems, and make them sustainable instead of being a one-time event. Also, it taught me that conversations are able to spark ideas and ideas can turn into reality,” says Cheryl.
With her participation in a plethora of activities tackling the different environmental issues, Cheryl won the HSBC-NYAA Youth Environment Award in 2016. She received book vouchers and a fully sponsored trip to the Andorran Pyrenees, for a project with Earthwatch Expedition.
Cheryl had the chance to work with scientists on wildlife and climate change. Part of her research included hiking up the scenic Pyrenees mountains to collect data on its biodiversity.
Cheryl shares that the various opportunities that she had from Geo Council and by extension, NYP, have strengthen her conviction for the way she feels about the environment.
Currently, Cheryl has taken on the role of a coach for Geo Council. Where she is putting together education materials and programmes on a series on sustainability, recycling and food, for youths.
Spoken like a true environmentalist, Cheryl concludes: “We should make the effort to connect with nature. We should learn to survive with nature instead of clashing with it, as nature does not need us, but we are dependent on her”.
Here are some of the noteworthy projects that Cheryl Lee worked on in Geo Council and as a YEE:
Blue Outreach Initiative, Resorts World Sentosa – attended a symposium covering current and future efforts on sustainable practices for the ocean. Also, Cheryl was a councillor who gave a tour to people of SEA Aquarium, where she had the role of educating people on the exploitation of marine animals.
Remembering Our Founding Father, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew – spearheaded a tree planting memorial tribute to Mr Lee.
Cheryl explains the significance of the idea: “Mr Lee had a vision for Singapore to be clean and green. He was our chief gardener and he initiated the first tree planting ceremony”.
National Climate Change Secretariat – role of Youth Delegate Liaison Officer who discussed environmental issues and how it can be overcome, and implemented in different countries.
ASEAN +3 forum Youth Environmental Forum – part of a team who created an Eco Trail of the Yuhua district – to educate youth delegates on eco initiatives to tackle food and electronic waste.
SEAYAN SEA, United Nations (UN) Environmental Project – regional meeting every two years, where countries come and work together on a project.