Welcome to Part 5 of the Berry Role Model Series. The featured Role Model this issue is Ms Cheryl Chu, an aspiring designer. For most people, when we see the word “designer” we would immediately think of art stream students. While this might be true most of the time, but it is predominantly due to societal pressure forcing conformity. Academically bright students are always ushered into science stream, rather than being encourage to take up what they excel in and where their passion lies. However, we have with us today a young lass by the name of Cheryl Chu who dares to follow her dreams and break with convention. She thinks it is okay to be unconventional and live life with no “what ifs”. And to walk the talk, she switched from science stream in SPM to pursue her dream in an arts based course (Diploma in Design and Media majoring in Advertising). Not only is she offered a place at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) in Singapore, she is also awarded a tuition grant from Singapore MOE and a bursary award from the Lee Foundation.
We are sure without a doubt that our Berry Readers would love to know a bit more about this go-getter and dare devil in life. You can read about her life and thoughts at <http://cherylchu.com>. In her blog, you would find her portfolio. (You won’t believe what she has amassed in her portfolio at the tender age of 17. But considering that she started learning Photoshop at 13, we can now fathom the phenomenon) We thought of not wanting to spoil the surprise of what you can find when you view her portfolio, but Berry Berry Easy cannot resist spilling the beans on the fact that she and her friends was The Star’s NiE Mag Inc. 2009 National Competition winner. She has also a design site (Cherying Design) producing fresh designs at <http://www.cherying.org>. Be sure to check them out.
Despite her grandiose portfolio and achievements, we were most impress by her bravery and maturity in being daring enough to go against convention to chase her dreams. We hope Berry Readers can take a leaf from her and chase your dreams too. Let the interview with Cheryl Chu begins.
Role Model #6 – Aspiring Designer – Cheryl Chu
1) Who are you?
> Coming from the city of Kuching, Sarawak, I’m a soon to be 18 year old girl who just finished her SPM examination last year and will be pursuing tertiary education in the field of Design and Media in due time.
2) So what do you do daily as an aspiring designer?
> Frankly, being a high school graduate who is anticipating for college to commence, I do not have much of a fixed daily routine. As a freelance designer now, I usually check my emails on a daily basis because I communicate through email or instant messaging with my clients based outside of Kuching. For clients based in Kuching, I would mostly meet them out to discuss as I find it easier to communicate with a person face to face. I would usually then work on projects from websites to print publishing and finally do a lot of reading on the web. The Internet is a place where one can find vast information and resources and it’s why I like to take time off to get inspired while I still can. I believe that when I start college, life will be much different and time for my own stuff would lessen considerably.
3) What do you aspire to achieve in the future, considering that you have already achieve relatively much for your age?
> I feel that every young mind have ideas and dreams of their own and it’s the same for me. Besides focusing on my studies, I would love to work on achieving a name for myself so that more people would be exposed to my work. If possible, I’d like to be more than just a designer in the future, maybe enter entrepreneurship or more so, contribute back to society.
4) Tell us about your passion in design and how it started? Who/What inspired you to take up designing seriously?
> The story of how it all started has always amused me till now because never once then, would I think that these things I did would have changed my life so much. It initiated purely as entertainment when I created a “fansite” for my idol, Hilary Duff. Funny it may seem, when one sees a 13 year old doing something like this may find it much of a pointless and time-consuming thing to do, but as I look back at that 13 year old me, a shy girl who did not dare share to the world what she was doing behind the computer, I’ve learnt a lot of myself over the years. On top of that, I used my spare time as a teenager to learn about creating websites and reading online tutorials on techniques in designing graphics and sites with Adobe Photoshop.
Back in high school, being granted the opportunity of designing for my school’s magazine, prefectorial board, the class and for clubs had also contributed to me wanting to take up designing. I feel that the self-satisfaction and also appreciation I get from people who like my work had been one of the co-factors that has been pushing me all these while to pursue this passion. Besides, being able to make my family proud and believe in the things I do makes me trust my instincts and decisions I make.
Basically, my inspiration comes from my environment, and more specifically from the World Wide Web. Any creative piece of art/design I see that is worth giving a thumbs-up to, drives me to improve myself everyday for the better.
5) What are the traits that you have that has brought you success so far? (Our Berry Readers who would like to follow your footsteps would know what to aim for)
> Have lots of faith. I have always been a firm believer in putting a lot of faith in the things I aim for and to always, always strive hard to reach those goals. I am adamant that working hard pays off in the end.
6) So, share with us your other secret of how you (and your friends) achieved national success in the Star NiE Mag Inc 2009 competition? How would you advise our Berry Readers if they want to replicate your success?
> I don’t think there was any real secret behind winning this competition. We all worked hard together as a team, did some brainstorming together, focused on every single detail we could think of in those pages and just pulled ourselves through while having the confidence that we did our best.
7) Before we part, can you tell us what made you go against the convention to pursue your dreams? Were there any external pressure stopping you from pursuing your dreams (you dont have to mention the names though)? How did you overcome them?
> It’s very simple, I followed my heart. =)
There are certain people that tend to look down on those pursuing art related courses because they feel that these are careers that cannot bring one far enough to succeed. They do so sometimes not through speech but in the tone of their voices or facial expressions when I am asked of my plans for tertiary education. In the beginning, I avoided such questions or gave the typical “I’m not sure yet” answer because I was uncomfortable with being judged based on the opinions of others. I do understand that a lot of people care and feel that way because they fear I may be making the wrong choices which I might regret in the future. However, I realized though I cannot prove to people with such mindsets wrong at this very point of time but I can do so in the future, as long as I continue to stick with what I feel is right and not be easily shaken by others.
8 ) Oh, before we really end this interview you, can you share with us some “words of wisdom” which have brought you success over the years.
> Though I doubt I have experienced or achieved enough to actually impart “words of wisdom” to others, I have one thing to add however cliché or cheesy it may be, that is for anything one dreams in life, dare to pursue them no matter how crazy they are because it’s one’s determination and willpower that brings that person far in life.
- End -
Here are some of Cheryl’s other fantastic achievements:
- Historical figure portrait drawing competition 2005 (School) – 1st place
- “History of Sarawak” album making competition (State) 2008 – Consolation
- North Star Art Project (National) 2008 – Shortlisted to finals
- Bag the Awareness bag design competition 2009 & Breast Cancer exhibition at Bangsar Village II (National) – Consolation
- Star-NiE: Mag Inc 2009 (National) – Grand prize
Now reward yourself with a sub-sample or teaser of her work (better still hop over to her website for a view of her portfolio):