Penn State Lehigh Valley alum gives back to campus by tutoring

a headshot of former PSU-LV student

Vinay Singh graduated from PSU-LV in 2020 but continues helping students as a tutor in the Learning Center. 

Credit: Vinay Singh

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Vinay Singh graduated from Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) in 2020 but continues to make a major impact on students at the branch campus. Singh, who is currently taking a gap year while applying to medical schools, returned to Lehigh Valley to assist students as a tutor in the 2nd floor Learning Center. 

“I completed the 2+2 program, so I spent two years at PSU-LV, and the last two years at UP studying biology,” Singh said. “A few of my teachers freshman year recommended me to Linda [Rumfield, learning center coordinator] — that’s how I got into the learning center. Academics have always been important to me. I came to the U.S. from India when I was five or six years old. I fell behind when I was trying to get caught up in my academics. Tutoring really got me on track.” 

Singh worked as an in-person tutor until two events changed his status, he said.

“After I went to University Park, that’s when COVID shifted everything online. I remained as an online tutor even after I went to University Park, so if a PSU-LV student needed help, Linda allowed me to continue tutoring online,” he said.

He’s been tutoring continually for the last two years and was recently promoted from a peer tutor to a professional tutor.  Besides tutoring, Singh has helped his peers out in other ways.

"I was also a note taker for students with disabilities. I worked with a student who had hearing difficulties — while she focused on her interpreter for the [classroom] lecture, I took the notes for her. To me it’s really important to make sure my peers have the help they need.”

Tutoring has an immediate benefit, said Singh: “It’s something I can see — I can see the students improving." Likewise, his work in the Learning Center helps him on his professional path.

“My end goal is to go into academic medicine, which means once I have completed my medical education and training, I will be working as a physician, providing health care to my patients, etc., also be training or educating medical students, hence the academic part. So sort of like a professor-physician hybrid,” he said. “When I'm in medical school or residency, the doctors that are teaching me and practicing with their own patients would be considered working in academic medicine. Education and academics have been common themes for me.”  

Trust is a common trait Singh said he has identified in both his current and future professions.

“Physicians can’t always just figure out a diagnosis — they have to build trust with their patients, explain to them what’s wrong with their body, and determine a treatment plan. The average patient may not know all of the medical jargon, for example, so it’s up to the physician to explain it to them. Those communication skills come by building a rapport. The skills I’m acquiring now will help me communicate with my patients in the future. It’s important to give patients more autonomy — if they understand what’s happening with their bodies, they are more empowered to make the necessary changes.” 

Likewise, Singh said, students who feel helpless or are falling behind in classes can find plenty of support at PSU-LV’s Learning Center. Tutors are on hand to help empower students not only understand, but master a subject.

“It’s beneficial to them, and it’s free. If there are any questions on course material or if a student is struggling, they can get help from students who have been in the same classes with the same professors," Singh said.

The Learning Center offers tutoring in a wide range of subjects, including an expanded Writing Center supervised by Michelle Kaschak, associate teaching professor, English. If a student is seeking help with a course that may not be readily available, Singh encourages students to come in anyway, he said: “A student can always ask if a tutor in a certain subject is available. Linda is amazing and can probably find someone who can help.” 

For more information on the Learning Center, visit the website.