Posted by Tamara Chumley
Posted on Friday, June 15, 2012
Roger Singh is a self-described “middle-aged soccer dad from the suburbs.” He is also an immigrant—one of eight children whose parents immigrated to the U.S. with nothing—yet that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing the highest level in academic accomplishment, a Ph.D.
Roger Singh and Family
In 2005, after working on Wall Street for many years as a financial advisor and then starting his own financial planning business, Roger and his wife made a joint decision that he would give up his career and stay at home to raise the children. At the same time, his wife started a day care business specializing in early childhood education. Currently, Roger handles the administrative duties for the business while returning to school at Walden University to obtain his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration with a specialization in Policy Analysis.
In addition, Roger is active in his community. He is a volunteer police sergeant, civilian volunteer with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary where he serves as a flotilla staff officer, a member of the Suffolk County Community Emergency Response Team, and a Suffolk literacy volunteer. He also has traveled to Mexico as part of a Witness for Peace delegation.
Roger shared with Spotlight on Walden how growing up in an impoverished neighborhood and seeing people around him who were uneducated has inspired him to work for change in his community.
You were a Wall Street financial advisor but decided when your kids were young to stay home and be involved with them and their education. Why is education so important to you?
Education became a passion for me because I saw what a good education can do for anyone who applies themselves and sticks to their goals. I emigrated from a poor nation called Guyana when I was only 8 years old. Even though my family lived in a poor, inner-city ghetto, I soaked up the knowledge the teachers passed on to me, especially history and social studies. Education was my only ticket out of the neighborhood. I knew I would need a college education, so I set my goal to achieve a bachelor’s degree, which opened the doors for me to enter the world of finance and become part of corporate America.
Do you see yourself setting an example for your children with your educational pursuit?
I constantly remind my children that education will bring you success. I was a given an opportunity to learn, and I describe my experiences to my children daily so they may feel the same passion I have for education. My boys are 9 and 11, and they already aspire to attend an Ivy League school—even my 4-year-old daughter tells everyone she is going to Harvard.
Why is volunteering and giving back to your community so important to you?
It goes back to my childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., and all of the influences, people, and experiences that shaped my mind and made me into a very patriotic person. The desire to serve my country was always very strong, and it was further ignited when my brother joined the military. Building a career in finance gave me little time to volunteer, but at age 34, I joined the New York City Police Department as a volunteer auxiliary police officer. One year later, 9/11 happened and we were needed more than ever. In the two weeks that followed, I patrolled the streets of my neighborhood in order to free up our regular officers to help at ground zero. From that moment I knew that I couldn’t stop volunteering.
How do you see your efforts making a difference in your community and beyond?
In order to make society a better place, I believe it needs to start with our youth. I mentor a young child whose dad is in prison and serve as a positive male role model in his life. I am hoping my effort will have an effect on him and keep him on the path to education and a better life rather than becoming a statistic.
Roger says his decision to pursue his Ph.D. from Walden is a direct result of his volunteer work with marginalized people. “I will use my degree to open doors for me where I can lecture, teach, and write about those who live on the outskirts of our society and, with a little effort and help, can change their lives.”