A graduate of a liberal, all-girl high school, Avneet Singh received in-depth sex education; when she went to college, she was shocked that some of her classmates were misinformed.She spent much of her time during her undergraduate studies at Case Western Reserve University dispelling myths her peers had about contraception and abortion, two hot political topics. Now as a second-year medical student at The University of Toledo, Singh is continuing this mission on a broader scale.
“What really hit me was when I went to medical school and I started to see how much medical misinformation is out there and seeing it from the perspective of a student,” Singh said. “That was my interest: making sure people knew the facts rather than just their religious or political views.”
Because of her passion and dedication to this cause, Singh is the recipient of the 2013-14 UT Wallenberg Award. The honor is given to those who showcase commitment to and passion for serving others, and Singh was chosen by a committee of six members, including UT alumnus Robert Karp, who made the original donation to make this award possible.
Singh has spent much of her free time volunteering for clinics such as Planned Parenthood and the former Center for Choice. Last fall, she canvassed door to door for Planned Parenthood, talking with people about sensitive women’s health issues and lobbying for low-cost health clinics.
“I see what happens when you don’t have access to health care or access to contraception or access to an abortion service,” Singh said. “I feel like it’s my duty as a future physician to be able to speak for those people from an educated standpoint.”
Singh also is active in the organization Medical Students for Choice, a group that educates future physicians on these charged subjects from a medical standpoint without mention of politics or religion. She is on the executive board and hopes to continue educating her classmates on these issues so that they can better serve their future patients.
“It’s easy for people, when they are unprepared for a situation, to tense up and go into commonly used buzzwords,” Singh said. “You stop having an honest conversation. When it comes to things like sex education and abortion, you need to be able to overcome what’s going on in the political world and give the patient the information he or she needs.”
As the recipient of the Wallenberg award, Singh will receive a $1,900 stipend for her education at UT in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat during World War II who helped rescue more than 100,000 Jews.
“Raoul Wallenberg was an average guy who was called upon to do something for other people, and he did it without having any real connection to those people or the situation,” Singh said. “I think it’s important to give everything I’ve got for my future patients. It’s really flattering to be recognized for that.”