Entrance Torch

Singh’s Valpo experience an agent for open dialogue

2013 MLK Award Holly SinghWhen Moninder “Holly” Singh speaks to an international student about life in the United States or life on the Valparaiso University campus, Singh speaks from personal experience.

The director of international students and scholars at Valparaiso University, Singh came to the United States more than 20 years ago from New Delhi, India, to attend Valparaiso University as an undergraduate student. Heavily involved in issues centered on diversity as a student, he graduated in 1998 and later earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Valpo while working in the University’s international students office.

“Valpo, I should say, is my first home now,” Singh said. “Half of my life was in New Delhi, India, and half has now been here at Valpo. I always tell people that I was born and brought up in New Delhi, but I matured at Valparaiso.

“Given the fact that I was a student here and started working for the University, it has really let me see what this University has to offer. There’s not just one aspect. There are so many faces of your life at Valparaiso.”

For his role in the internationalization of Valparaiso University and for fostering an inclusive campus community, Singh has been honored as a 2013 recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Singh joins fellow MLK Award recipients Allison Schuette, associate professor of English, and Liz Wuerffel, adjunct professor of art, for their work on the Welcome Project, an ongoing piece that provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to tell their stories through audio and video.

Singh, Schuette, and Wuerffel will be honored at the Monday, Jan. 21, MLK Celebration convocation at the Chapel of the Resurrection. Visit valpo.edu/mlk for a full schedule of events and updates.

“People from all walks of life come to this place and make this their home,” Singh said. “I see diversity in that right there. I don’t see diversity in colors and in religions. To be recognized for making a difference in this community, from my perspective, is the highest achievement. And I am humbled by this award.”

Singh was integral in the development of the Summer Global Leadership Institute at Valpo, a three-week program for prospective international high school students that immerses participants in the American higher education system and the overall university culture.

“Given my experience at the University, I felt there was a need to start this education for internationals at an earlier age, before college, so they can make the right choices,” Singh said. “The American education system is the best that the world has to offer; there is no doubt in my mind about that. But what school to choose? It’s a very difficult choice.

“So for us to bring in ninth-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders from around the world to our campus and give them a three-week program on global leadership helps students to see the perspectives we bring and the openness we bring and the different dialogues we have.”