USP Alumni Network

Sonal Singh

Name: Sonal Singh
Country: Fiji
Programme: BA in Management and Public Administration (Gold Medalist 2003) and Tourism Studies, MA in Management and Public Administration (2005)

Why did you choose your field of study? I decided to pursue Masters in Management and public Administration to develop skills and knowledge in areas of governance, public management and policy making. I am passionate about equity, social justice and ethics and through my Masters I was able to learn research methods and strategies for conducting policy research to inform evidence-based decision making process.
Briefly reflect on your student life at USP? I stayed on campus while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree.  USP has a thriving residential campus life and USP life was filled with new experiences, meeting people from diverse backgrounds and volunteer on USP programs.
Greatest achievement[s] as a student? As a student the greatest achievement was getting a scholarship by the EU as a Graduate Assistant for my Masters studies. The scholarship was a stepping stone in pursuing my goal towards a career in research.  
Career Highlights since Graduation? After my Masters graduation, I began working at Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau as a Senior Export Promotion Officer. Working with emerging exporters to explore new markets internationally, I was able to utilize the policy research skills I had learnt during my Masters. In 2009, I moved to Macquarie University to pursue PhD in Marketing and upon completion in 2013, I began working for Widening Participation Unit at Macquarie University working on projects encouraging students from low-economic backgrounds to enter into higher education.  In October 2015, I was invited by Ministry of Education, NZ to present at the Refugee Education Conference in Auckland.
Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you? My biggest inspiration has been my own children. They give me the strength and motivation to use my research skills to influence policy decisions affecting women and children. 
How do you think USP helped you in your career? Studying at USP broadened my knowledge and understanding on advocacy and social justice issues. USP helped me give a direction on utilizing my passion for research for social good. In my current role, I work with students from refugee backgrounds in high schools to access higher education.
Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges? The key challenge has been maintaining a work –life balance.  Migrating to a new country like Australia meant leaving behind support structures of family and friends in Fiji. Gradually new friends were made which helped overcome the challenges of living in a new country.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)? Career wise, I see myself working more on closely with community organizations to advocate for refugee resettlement in Australia, 
What advice would you give to current and future students of USP? Think about how you can utilize your education towards social good .
Please share top three tips that you think are most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.
1.    Have a good mentor who can guide you in your career.
2.    Look out for opportunities and grab them when you can.
3.    Never give up.
What has your involvement been with the University since you graduated? Worked with my former lecturers in academic conference and journal publications.
Any other information you would like to share.
“An immigrant leaves his homeland to find greener grass. A refugee leaves his homeland because the grass is burning under his feet…” (Law & Eckes (2000) More Than Just Surviving Handbook, Portage & Main Press).
While the journey through education towards employment is challenging for every young person, it presents additional difficulties for students from refugee backgrounds, given that they have often experienced years of instability, trauma and disrupted schooling. Lets support them as much as we can
Sonal Singh is passionate about ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access and succeed in education regardless of background with presentations on these topics in Australia, USA, and NZ since 2013. Her co-authored journal article is now available at Australia Policy Online   apo.org.au/node/56984


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