Merry Chu

Merry Chu

Spotlight on

Undergraduate Student

Merry Chu is in her fourth year of a Commerce/Science double degree and is this year’s President of UNSW Mathematics Society!

Merry reveals what’s on the cards for MathSoc in 2022 and divulges some of her plans as President.

She also opens up about her favourite study spot, how she landed on her particular degree, what’s on the horizon post graduation, and more...

You’re this year’s President of MathSoc! What are some things coming up this year that students should know about?

Coming up on the 14th of March is Pi Day, and as always we’ll be offering our members a free pie to celebrate the occasion!

We do not have our calendar locked in yet but here are some things MathSoc members can look forward to in the coming year:

  • Our Education Team will be holding revision seminars and workshops for popular Level 1 and 2 maths courses at the end of each Trimester, creating solutions for First Year question banks and holding maths competitions to improve the student body’s mathematical capabilities.
  • The social events team is in the midst of planning a camp in early T2 (3rd-5th June) and a ball later on in the year to give our members the chance to socialise, meet like-minded people, and enjoy university life outside of their courses.
  • Our Corporate Events Team will be bringing workshops, panel casts and poker nights in collaboration with our sponsors, and aim to help students learn more about how to apply the knowledge they’ve been taught in the classroom to a successful career for life after graduation.

What are you hoping to achieve in the President role?

Going off of my core belief that people power MathSoc, my goal was to assemble a team of leaders and together create a welcoming, fun and supportive environment for every member of the MathSoc family. Whether their motivations for joining are social, professional or academic, I want to provide them with a network of support to help them along their journey through university and in ultimately achieving their goals.

This year, I intend to organise more in-person initiatives. I joined the society in 2020, since which we have had no choice but to move our operations online. Now that face-to-face events are feasible, it is time to re-engage with the community and take on a more active role in enhancing the student experience. During our last two years, we’ve also come to realise that online delivery is actually preferred in some cases for educational and panel cast events. Going forward, we will be adopting a hybrid approach so we can tailor our events towards our members’ needs and let them enjoy the best of both worlds!

 MathSoc 2022 sign 

Personally, what has been the best thing about getting involved with MathSoc during your time at uni?

I’m not sure what it is about the people MathSoc attracts, but for some unbeknownst reason, our team always manages to share the same unholy sleep schedule. Some of my happiest memories of uni have been sitting in our Discord server, playing video games until the sun rises. Sleeping habits aside, MathSoc has vastly improved my uni experience and has allowed me to take part in many of my firsts. My first escape room, coding competition, Twitch stream, and rap battle have all been with MathSoc and I want to make sure that our community continues being a place where everyone has the chance to make lasting friendships and explore new interests.

You are in your 4th year of a Bachelor of Commerce and Science, majoring in finance and statistics, and minoring in computer science. What led you to choose your particular degree and mix of majors/minors? What do you enjoy about the combination of disciplines?

I chose to major in statistics because I really enjoyed mathematics in high school. It was a universal language and questions would pretty much only have one right answer. Now that I’ve taken three years of statistics courses, I’ve come to realise that that is absolutely not the case anymore, but I’m still interested in the content being taught and look forward to continuing my studies in it. I coupled this with a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in finance) to open up more opportunities in the corporate field.

I felt like those majors together were very versatile and could be applied to many roles in many industries because I’d come out of my studies with both business acumen and quantitative skills. Now that I’ve tacked on a minor in computer science too, I will have tech competency at my disposal too and I’m excited about having more opportunities to choose from!

What’s been your favourite course at uni so far?

My favourite at uni so far has been COMP1911: Computing 1A. Going into the class with zero experience or interest in coding, I expected to feel indifferent about the content being taught and was just looking to tick off another required course. However, I came to discover that I liked the problem-solving aspect of programming, and thoroughly enjoyed coding the weekly problem sets and staying up late to finish the assignments.

Since then, I have gone out of my way to be involved in the digital world; I am currently teaching myself Python, helped many societies design and maintain their website, and even placed first in a coding competition! Despite the simplistic nature of the content, taking COMP1911 made me fall in love with computer science, which I am now taking as a minor.

Of your experiences at uni over the past four years, what have you found to be the most:

  • wonderful? The memories I’ve made here thanks to UNSW’s large number of student societies and volunteer opportunities.
  • challenging? Going into uni, I could’ve never predicted that I would be forced to take online courses for the majority of my program, due to a global pandemic and having to juggle studies with full-time work.
  • surprising? How much I’ve come to enjoy coding!

Where’s your favourite place to study? What kind of things help you to get in the zone?

My ideal place to study is a café! I settle down with my iced coffee, start up my study playlist and make a list of everything I plan to get done that day so I can formulate a plan of attack!

Have you concocted a plan (career or otherwise) for when you finish up uni at the end of next year?

My ultimate goal would be to work as a professional problem solver. Because I am still unsure of exactly what problems I’d like to solve and where, my current plan is to obtain experience in each of my areas of interest before committing to a graduate role.

I have previously worked in the insurance and professional services industries, and am currently working in data analytics at a payments services company. Although I’ve enjoyed all of these opportunities, I am aware there are many options out there and would like to take on more so I can make the most informed decision regarding my future.

Images: Top - Merry Chu; middle and bottom - Merry with MathSoc members.

March 2022