Professor Supriya Singh
"Education flows from the story of my mother's life".
RMIT's Professor Supriya Singh, has found a special way to honour her mother's extraordinary legacy - by establishing a scholarship in her mother's name.
When Professor Supriya Singh was seeking a way to honour her mother, she could think of no better tribute than to establish a scholarship in her mother's name. "Education flows from the story of my mother's life," says Professor Singh.
Professor Singh's mother, Inder Kaur, was born in 1911 in Rawalpindi, then part of India. Inder had to leave school when she hit puberty because it wasn't seen as proper for young girls to be at school.
In 1947, Rawalpindi became part of the new country of Pakistan, which led to the displacement of over 12 million people, including Inder's family.
"Our family became refugees," says Professor Singh. "We left our ancestral home, Rawalpindi, and moved to Delhi. It changed a lot of things - social norms began to change, because in order to survive, every member of the family needed to be employed. So through a variety of steps, my mother began to get an education."
Inder began to study, first completing her high school matriculation. Against all odds, she continued her education and completed a university degree, followed by a Masters, a very rare accomplishment for a woman of her time. "She then became an educator herself, and was the founding Principal of three women's Colleges in Punjab," says Professor Singh.
"It's hard to imagine that not so long ago, being a woman meant that you were at home, that you were not educated, that you did not have any of the options that sometimes we take for granted. I can work anywhere in the world. For my mother, even getting the education so that she could work was very difficult."
Professor Singh chose to establish a scholarship for refugee women studying an undergraduate course at RMIT in her mother's name. "Life can be very difficult for refugees. This scholarship will enable recipients to concentrate on what they most want to do. Once you have a foot in the education world, then it's easier to carry on."
Professor Singh had wanted to set up the scholarship for a number of years, but hadn't found a suitable institution. "At RMIT I found there was a system in place. So if I want the scholarship in perpetuity, there is a process to ensure that the spirit behind the scholarship will be honoured. What also made me confident was that all the money that our family gives would be put towards the scholarship. It wouldn't be eaten up in administration costs," she says.
It was a proud day when Professor Singh signed the agreement to establish the Inder Kaur Scholarship at RMIT. Both her sons, Aman and Sunil Bhar were present. Aman flew to Melbourne for the occasion - coming all the way from Malaysia. "It's an important part of our family history and we needed to celebrate it," says Professor Singh. "My mother had a passion for education. I thought this was a good way to honour her and her achievements."
If you'd like more information about establishing scholarships at RMIT, contact the Development team on +61 3 9925 5220 or email email@example.com