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Flipping Es into CGPA 4.0 - 7 Lessons to Learn from Happy’s Journey to Graduation

September 06, 2019

Nur Azre

Yan Lung Lee or best known as Happy is a recent business college graduate from Malaysia (alumni of INTI International College & Universities), who graduated top of his class in the US this past weekend. He is also starting his first career as an Advertising Operations Manager in Texas. However, things were not always so sunny, which is why he is a great inspiration to us all.

1. Making mistakes is part of being human

In 2011, Happy was just like many of us, fooling around with the wrong crowd and neglecting our responsibilities. His grades back in his high school were merely 9Es.

2. It is okay to fail, as long as we know where to pick up 

After 3 years of putting himself in the position, he decided to flip the coin 360 degree and change his life. He moved to a brand new school to start all over again - from the bottom. He did it - 5 As out of 10.

3. Never lose your spirit

I have always known Happy to be the one who seized opportunities. I guess this started since he was a child, going for singing and story-telling competitions and winning them!

He would be the one who would go the extra mile, to make his work output the best. I remembered him burning his midnight oil working on Zalora’s market research project which was a top-notch production. Around campus, we could always see him chasing the Statistics lecturer to check on his part-time work trend analysis. 

I also remembered him taking the opportunity to help with my club’s projects although he was not part of it because he felt that he could learn something from the experience - he later worked part-time for this company, until he moved to the States to chase his dreams.

4. Help others where you can

We met in 2014, I just transferred from the US mid-semester. I was really lost because I left my life and dreams behind to help my mum through her sick days - and although transitioning into a place where many had formed their social circles - Happy broke this barrier. He was always inclusive, friendly and positive - my world became a brighter place.

Happy is also very supportive of his friends. He would be that one friend you could always count on. I think this is very important as he is leading by example and is indeed a very caring one.

Instead of being envious, he actually celebrates others’ successes - like a lot!

5. Never stop growing

When Happy moved to his new high school in 2012, he stepped up to become the President of Library, Vice President of Chinese Society Club and Taekwondo. On top of that, he won a bronze medal in a sparring competition for Taekwondo on the district level and runner-up for a Creative Chinese Writing Competition on the state level, let alone the novel got published along with other winning writings. Lastly, he received the Best Student Award of that year for being only in the school for 2 years! 

During his studies at INTI Subang, he worked part-time as a Marketing Data Analyst with Mainstream Online Buzz, a digital marketing company handling major accounts. He then saw an opportunity to challenge himself to participate in a 6-month-study and 6-month-work program in Chicago, US. When he was there, he figured a way to graduate abroad!

He worked as a Corporate Sales Trainer, led projects all the way to his graduation as the student commencement speaker. Happy explored sales, marketing, and operations in such a short span of time when many spend years trying to explore these different business units.

As a student, Happy also developed a passion for social and environmental sustainability, which led him to become a fair-trade chocolate ambassador with revolutionary chocolatier, Valerie Beck. And with the guidance of Future Founders, he also founded HydroHomies, a green start-up company that delivers high-quality and highly-consistent fresh produce to consumers all year long via hydroponics and other modern farming techniques.

6. Never give up on your dreams

After applying to over 500 jobs, receiving over 230 rejection emails, interviewing for an average of 5 companies every week, and choosing between multiple offers, he finally landed a job at an international company, founded in France, as an Advertising Operations Manager two weeks before his graduation. 

7. When it’s too hard to breathe, take a pause

Fun fact! Happy practices Yoga, and self-learned. His strength is pretty awesome.

It has allowed him to reflect some of his life decisions holistically, rationally and emotionally.

When you speak with Happy, you can really feel his Zen-ness.

He was never the first in the class; he was never the strongest competitor; he was never the smartest, most talented or academically gifted person in the room; he was never the brightest star. He strived hard to be the best version of myself and hope to help others in the future.

I met Happy in a management class back in 2014, during my first semester at INTI Subang. He has always been a positive spirit, but who he is today, is very far from the first time we formed our friendship. I witnessed and cherished his growth in terms of his perseverance, confidence, and outlook in life and will always be a big inspiration to me and hopefully to others.

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