It is said that the difference between life and school is that in school you’re taught a lesson and then given a test, whereas, in life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson. Tests in life vary from competing in male-dominated profession to losing your loved one. Of this, the death of your loved one is the hardest test of all.
Somebody once said that when someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. When Vidya Singh lost her 21-year-old son in 2007, she was beyond devastated. She felt an emptiness so pronounced in her life that she was constantly searching for a purpose for her existence. Though her Consultancy practice kept her occupied but still there was a void. It was during this adversity that she got an offer for teaching. Although reluctant at first, she accepted the post and started teaching. It was after joining that she realized that she had finally found her purpose. Cherishing the treasures of her son’s memories, Vidya took a fresh perspective towards life and since then has been enjoying teaching and shaping students to be better individuals.
Today, Vidya Singh is the Dean of Faculty of Architecture & Planning at Amity School of Architecture and Planning, Raipur. She aims to shape sensible architects who can in turn shape a better tomorrow. It is truly commendable that she has spent her entire 30+ years of career life preaching and practicing professional ethics and core family values. “My effort has always been towards making a person realize the importance of values and ethics to live a contented life. And by the blessings of God, I have been able to achieve the purpose. My students, friends, family members, and even people around me have been influenced by my positivity and motivation,” she says.
When she faltered, there were a couple of strong hands that helped her stand up. She looks up to these people as her role models. They are her 92-year old father and 82-year-old mother, an electrical engineer who lived his life on principles and a strong lady who blossomed into a wise, well-read, kind-hearted lady from a 4th class village girl, respectively. She smiles when she says that her mother is truly the backbone of the family. She also looks up to her late uncle, who was known for his honesty and ethics. On the professional front, she holds Dr.Ujwala Chakradeo, Principal of S.M.M.College of Architecture, Nagpur, and her Architecture classmates as her pillars of support.
She reminisces that while she was a student she had to sit through yearly examinations and was fortunate to have been mentored by very senior and experienced teachers who took time to explain the minutest detail of subjects, hold further discussions, and help out in long studio hours. However, in the present day, with the current trend of semester examinations introduced by UGC, teachers find it hard to teach Design subjects to its minutest detail. Moreover, thanks to the deluge of information, students rather surf the net than have conversations with their teachers. “What is sad is that everything you see on the internet that comes labeled as fact is not true. Rather, if students sifted through the library books and shared their ideas with teachers it would create a powerful and ebullient atmosphere of knowledge sharing,” she comments.
Vidya joined Amity Raipur on 1st May 2017, when the opportunity to establish a school of Architecture knocked on her door. Coupled with her 3 decades of industry experience and 10 years of academic experience with her strong management qualities, she instantly realized that she could do justice to the trust bestowed on her by the Hon’ble Chairman of Amity University Chhattisgarh Raipur, Dr.Aseem Chauhan. She strongly believes that success comes to those who keep on performing their duties with sincerity, honesty and hard work.
Speaking of gender equality, she says, “At Amity, we are proud to say that we have a well-established system, where students are given proper orientation programs on the day of their joining, which makes them comfortable in a new environment. Our studio environment is always buzzing with creative work, brainstorming sessions to discuss ideas and concepts. Hence, we never felt any gender difference. Even in Construction yard activity girls work at par with boys. So, we are not required to take any measures to promote gender equality.”
Vidya has always been keen on giving back to society as she strongly believes in giving back more than what she receives. As the Founder President of the Rotary Club, she was involved in various activities that helped society. In association with her previous Institute, she established COWA- Consortium of Women Architects, a platform that addresses women architects’ issues and assists them to find their footing in professional practice. Similarly, with Amity, she has established a Public Library at Math, a next-door village through which she conducts various activities like promoting education, literacy, storytelling, fun learning, good and habits, the importance of hygiene, and returning to one’s roots for a better quality life. However, it is her “Miraaj Foundation”, which she started in memory of her son, that she holds dear. The foundation used to design activities to overcome loneliness in life. Even though she could not take it further due to various reasons, the foundation has a special place in her heart.
PENNY FOR THOUGHT
Vidya observes that while the teaching field is still the preferred career option for non-architect women, thanks to the safe and secure work atmosphere, good salary, number of holidays, and the prospect of matching their academic calendar to that of their children. However, the same cannot be said for Architecture. She says, “Starting an independent Architectural firm is a little difficult and, unfortunately, our girls are not trained to take decisions independently. There still exist a lot of apprehensions and pullbacks for girls to pursue Architectural studies and practice. I wish to work further on this cause. But it is hearty to see that young women are increasingly becoming smarter and more adaptive, venturing into various fields, and becoming serious researchers.” She advises young women pursuing their passion not to stop fighting for what they want. Each battle teaches you a lesson; The more you struggle, the better and wiser you become.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
Vidya, through constant guiding and mentoring, has helped students collect accolades for the college and themselves. Some of which are:
• Students of Architecture won Best New college at the entry-level in Zonal NASA (National Association of Students of Architecture) in 2017.
• Students participated in a design competition organized by Everest and won recognition.
• Students of Interior Design won Best Design trophy at INTFEST, 2019
• Students won first and second place in the IIID design competition.
• Students bagged best delegate awards at MUN held at 2 different places.
• Students were a part of the AUC team who won different prizes at Inter-University sports activity.
• Invited by National Summit on Innovation by Smart City Raipur where the students presented an innovative idea on green spaces.
• Signed an MOU with Raipur Smart City where students would undertake internships and also Institutional Consultancy Cell would get few projects. This MOU is the outcome of the innovative ideas presented by the students.