Gurvinder Singh moved from Punjab, India, to the United States at the age of 12. His parents brought their family to the U.S. “looking for a better opportunity.”
“Not only was I leaving family and friends behind, but I was also moving to a country about which I knew little,” said Singh. “It was a learning curve. I had to learn a new language, cherish a new culture, and meet and connect with communities from different regions of the world.”
Singh graduated from both high school and college, something that had not before happened in his family.
“After I graduated from Berkeley College, my parents’ teary eyes and proud feelings made me realize this wasn’t just my success, but this was also their ‘American dream,’” he said.
Soon after graduation, Singh began working at the New York Police Department.
“I was the first Sikh police officer to wear the turban in the NYPD. Due to existing policies, I had to cover my turban with the hat,” he said. “Being a police officer in the most diverse city in the world is a challenge. Every day is different. You learn to work with various situations, under pressure and in short amounts of time.”
Since he began at the NYPD, Singh has worked to improve awareness of Sikh officers and the resources and knowledge available to them. He became the vice president of the NYPD Desi Society, the nation’s first fraternal organization representing South Asian police officers, and the president of the Sikh Officers Association.
“We were successfully able to negotiate with the NYPD to allow Sikh officers to wear their turbans and keep their beard uncut. Being able to wear the turban and keep the beard will help Sikh community serve the city without having to compromise with faith. Since the change in policy, we have seen an increase with Sikhs joining the law enforcement career.”
Singh is the recipient of the CSU NYPD scholarship. He will use this scholarship to pursue a Master of Public Administration.