Changing the World, No Permission Needed
If you’re waiting for permission to make a difference in the world, Deanna Singh has a message for you.
“It’s okay to step outside what’s expected when we have good intentions and we’re trying to do something for the greater good,” she says. “We often feel like we have to wait for permission. We all need to be told that it’s okay.”
Singh, an entrepreneur and author, visited Alverno to share an empowering message with students and the broader community: “Ordinary people can do very extraordinary things, and they don’t need permission.”
Singh’s own career path reflects this. “My purpose has been to shift power to marginalized communities,” she says. Armed with a law degree and an MBA, she has built her career around this mission. She recently wrote two children’s books – I Am a Boy of Color and I Am a Girl of Color – to celebrate and provide representation for children who for too long haven’t seen themselves in the stories we tell. And through the business she founded, Flying Elephant, she travels near and far to share and educate.
Singh draws on her personal experiences to share strategies that attendees can use to serve as a change agent and make a positive impact on society.
“To be a change agent means that you see something in the world that doesn’t settle in your soul,” she explains. “You decide that you are going to be part of the solution.”
Serving as a change agent isn’t easy, Singh says. It takes time and a lot of hard work to make an impact, and there will certainly be setbacks along the way. That’s why a successful change agent’s very first step must be introspective. “Before anyone can go into this work, they have to have deep clarity about why they’re doing it so that in those moments of challenge – or even in the moments that things are going great – they stay grounded in the why of what they’re doing.”
Singh recognizes that transforming an idea into action can be daunting. People may question whether they have enough experience or credibility to step up, or they may doubt they have enough time, money or skills to make an impact. There’s also fear – fear of failure and fear of traveling a lonely path.
But Singh suggests that many of these obstacles are largely self-imposed. “Because they’re rooted in a mindset, you have the power to change them,” she says. “It’s really important to remember that if we can harness the things that we do have control and power over, there’s no limit to what we’re able to achieve.”
Singh knows her message will resonate at Alverno, a community that embraces and encourages meaningful engagement with the world.
“The way that Alverno educates students is in itself revolutionary,” she says. “You’re getting quality education, but it’s also positioned next to this larger question about impact in the world. That’s what makes an Alverno education incredibly valuable and unique.”