Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.
Teacher at Coney Island Prep High School and contributor to Brown Girl Magazine
Felicia Singh ’11, M.A. ’12, has gotten comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Singh who was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, where she didn’t attend a traditional high school. “I went to a vocational high school,” she said. “Every student who went to my high school was there to get certified in some kind of trade. During my time there I fell in love with art.” Singh graduated in 2007 with a certificate in creative and commercial arts.
Adelphi was one of the only schools she visited during her college search. “I immediately fell in love with the campus. I loved the gardens and just how calm and peaceful it was,” she said. “I wanted to go to a place that was away from home but close enough to go back when I wanted.”
After initially being unsure about what major best suited her, Singh decided to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature with minors in education and journalism through Adelphi’s Scholar Teacher Education Program (STEP). She thoroughly enjoyed her classes at Adelphi, in particular her classes with Professor Igor Webb, Laraine Wallowitz, and Diana Feige. She was also very involved on campus activities. “Adelphi was wonderful because there were so many opportunities to lead,” she said. Singh was a resident assistant for three years in residence halls, Earle and New Hall B, and was part of the diversity committee in her sophomore year. In her senior year she was elected senior class president. “Being the graduating class president made me feel like.. I had a voice and I could represent people,” she said. “All of the leadership opportunities I had at Adelphi made me feel like I could be a leader in my career as an educator.”
Singh fondly recalls delivering the keynote speech at commencement, “It’s a moment that I will always hold on to,” she said. “I got to say how grateful I was and how much I appreciated being a daughter of immigrant parents who worked so hard to get me where I was.”
Just weeks after graduation, Singh headed back into the classroom to begin her pursuit of a master’s degree at Adelphi. “I enjoyed graduate school the most,” she said. “I was really pushed by my professors, but they were also very kind and attentive.” As part of the program, Singh spent six months shadowing, observing and learning from teachers. “It was an amazing experience to meet teachers who are so dedicated and fulfilled by their job,” she said. “You get the full teaching experience and you really get to find out if teaching is what you are meant to do.”
Towards the end of graduate school, Singh applied to teach English as a foreign language in the Peace Corps. “Joining the Peace Corps had been something I thought about doing since high school,” Singh said. After earning her master’s degree, Singh was hired to teach at Roosevelt Children’s Academy. As her first school year as a teacher drew to a close, Singh was informed that she had been selected in the Peace Corps. So, she packed her bags. “There is no way to prepare,” she said. “You can’t pack or realize what you need when you are moving your entire life abroad.” Singh soon found herself boarding a plane. Approximately 12 hours later, she would be in a foreign land- China. “Being placed in China wasn’t what I was expecting,” said Singh, “But, it was a blessing. It was a beautiful experience.” Almost immediately after landing, Singh started intensive training to learn about Chinese culture and government policy, basic Mandarin, and health and safety procedures. She then started teaching model school lessons to local volunteers before she had her final review and received her assignment.
Singh then traveled to the rural town of Neijiang, in Sichuan Province where she began teaching freshman and sophomores to write and speak English at Neijiang Normal University. She was also given permission to create the university’s first women’s studies course. Singh worked with a Chinese teacher who co-taught the class with her and helped her understand the culture and women’s role in the country. “We challenged each other’s ideas in the class and learned about each other,” said Singh. By the end of the course, the students overwhelmingly expressed to Singh how much they enjoyed the class and how much they admired her. “I think what was really interesting was that several guys took class as well,” she said. “I think they also left feeling empowered.” Many of Singh’s students were inspired by her and went on to teach similar lessons at other schools in Asia. “It’s so nice to see the seeds that you planted grow,” said Singh.
Singh spent her final six months in China at exit training sessions and saying her goodbyes to the many people that touched her life while she was there. During her time in China, she had been welcomed into the home of a host family who helped guide her and assisted with her transition into Chinese culture. Saying goodbye to them she said was the toughest, “I never felt like a foreigner with them. I felt like their daughter.”
Singh currently teaches at Coney Island Prep High School, a rigorous K-12 public charter school located in the heart of South Brooklyn. She is also a contributor for Brown Girl Magazine an online publication tailored and targeted to young South Asian women. “I have so many other passions and when I don’t practice them I feel like they’re dying,” she said. “I wanted to write and I saw Brown Girl Magazine had openings so I applied and sent them some blogs I wrote while I was in China.” Being able to express myself to a community of women I relate to is incredibly important to me.
As for her greatest professional accomplishment, Singh says she hasn’t had it yet. “A lot of people told me that the Peace Corps would be the best experience I’ll ever have. I don’t believe that is true for me,” she said. “I think there are even bigger things to come and I’m looking forward to achieving more in my life.”