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Student life: CU Student selected to be part of White House initiative

first_imgShare Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Growing up in Colorado Springs, CU-Boulder student Naureen Singh found that many people knew little about her heritage and religion – Sikhism, and she wanted to change that. She set her sights on the center of the American political system: Washington, D.C.Singh, a molecular, cellular and developmental biology major, applied and was accepted as an intern at an organization called Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF). Based in Washington, D.C., the organization’s mission is to “empower Sikh Americans by building dialogue and understanding.” She also sought a position with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the federal agency that is responsible for enforcing employment discrimination laws. She then spent last summer working for both organizations in Washington, D.C.“I wanted to have my voice represented,” Singh said. “I was the only Sikh student from the entire mountain region to be in D.C., so I represented a lot of people.”Though much of her time in the nation’s capital was dedicated to learning and working, Singh also found time to organize “Langar on Hill,” which was based on a Sikh tradition that she was excited to share.“Langar is a Sikh tradition where everyone sits on the floor and has a free community meal to symbolize equality,” Singh said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; you can all sit down and enjoy a meal.”Singh and fellow interns hosted the free event, which attracted several hundred congressmen and senators.  “It was also a great way to educate the congressmen about Sikhism,” Singh said. “That was a really cool aspect.”While in Washington, D.C., Singh became increasingly invested in the cause to advocate for Asian-Americans. She attended an informational forum about a new program the White House recently launched. After a lengthy application process, Singh was selected into the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ very first class of “E3! Ambassadors.”“The program stands for Educate, Engage and Empower,” Singh said. “We are convening in May at the White House. Until then, I am conducting outreach programs here in Colorado for the White House Initiative.”Singh is among 31 students who were selected as ambassadors from various locations across the nation, and is one of three Sikhs.Singh will coordinate with various CU groups across campus to target issues associated with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, in order to help highlight certain federal resources and programs that are currently made available for their benefit. “We are talking to students and to the community about these issues, and trying to make change,” Singh said. “We want to make smaller change within our communities. Hopefully that will translate to bigger governments and back to the White House.”As part of her role with E3! Ambassadors, Singh plans to hold workshops and talks focusing on education as well as topics such as bullying. In addition to providing students with new information, Singh says it’s also about “showing resources that are already available for students” who identify as Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders. She aims to do anything she can to advocate and educate those who share in similar experiences she has faced as a first generation American.Singh says her experience at CU contributed to her decision to go to Washington, D.C.“Everybody’s individual voice is important. The emphasis on student groups at CU has helped me realize that everyone needs to speak up for what they’re passionate about,” she said. “Thats why I went to D.C.”Singh also was elected as a CUSG representative at large during the fall elections that were completed the last week of October. Along with advocating for student voice, Singh advises students to hold on to their roots.“I always thought that being a minority was a hurdle, and I never fully embraced it and used it,” Singh said. “Embrace where you come from. There’s always a path that can take you where you want to go”Photo: Singh (second from left) in Washington, D.C., during the “Langar on Hill” event she organized. Photo courtesy of Singh. Published: Dec. 5, 2014 last_img read more