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Dora and Sanjay Singh’s pose with scholarship recipients

Kevin Mooney wants to work with artificial intelligence one day. Or he might pursue his passion for the arts and create software for music producers.

Either way, the UAB senior—a computer science major and music technology minor—is excited to explore his options. And as one of the first recipients of the Dora and Sanjay Singh Scholarship for Computer Science, he says he is free to do just that.

“Receiving this scholarship gives me the opportunity to focus on what I want to do in the future—whether that’s working with artificial intelligence or in music or another direction—instead of having to worry about financial stuff,” explains Mooney, who is from Mobile, Alabama.

That’s exactly why the Singhs established the scholarship, says Sanjay Singh, Ph.D., a Birmingham technology entrepreneur and former Collat School of Business faculty member. “Without education, nothing really matters,” he says. “The surest pathway for success is the foundation of knowledge. For students who want to go to school but don’t have the money, I want to help them see a pathway.”

Birmingham also benefits through the development of a diverse, skilled workforce ready to help fuel the economy’s growth, Singh adds. “The more I have gotten involved with the Birmingham community, the tech scene, and with UAB, it has become apparent that you cannot build an entrepreneurial ecosystem without having a strong computer science force.”

Singh and his wife, Dora, established the scholarship in 2019 as part of UAB’s Blazing the Way Scholarship Match Initiative—which helps donors’ gifts go farther. Through the initiative, UAB will match, dollar for dollar, annual scholarships established by donors. For endowed scholarships, UAB will provide the spendable portion of the payout for five years to allow the scholarship to be awarded immediately while the full pledge builds. Donors also can name scholarships and establish additional criteria, such as need or participation in a particular course of study. The Singhs’ scholarship gives preference to students who are graduates of Birmingham City Schools, minorities, or first-generation students.

Sanjay Singh, who is from India, initially was a college drop-out. But he eventually earned his M.B.A. from Georgia College and State University and a Ph.D. in information technology and strategic management from the University of Georgia. Scholarships played a key role in his education, he says. “So often, we think about the ideal situation—that every kid is going to go to school and won’t have to worry about money,” Singh explains. “Whether it’s financial aid, family support, or a scholarship—every bit helps. I have seen firsthand what it means to get the right education.”

Singh cofounded Computer Technology Services in the late 1990s and served as its vice president for community relations until 2017. He has held appointments in the Collat School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Computer Science, and the School of Engineering. Currently he serves on the board of directors for Pack Health, which is a health education and advising start-up, and CS Equities.

“Where he came from to what he’s doing today—that’s very inspiring,” says Peyton Bean, a freshman computer science major from Montgomery, Alabama, who also received the Singhs’ scholarship. “When someone sees the potential in you and thinks you’ll go far, it makes you want to work even harder to prove them right. You know you can do it, and they know it, too.”

This scholarship isn’t the first investment the Singhs have made in UAB. The couple created a research fellowship for Collat School of Business faculty. They also established another scholarship for students interested in education abroad. For both scholarships, UAB’s promise to match donors’ investments helped them make the decision to give. The match “makes it more meaningful,” Sanjay Singh explains. “It shows that UAB is already giving to its students.”

Yuliang Zheng, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Computer Science, says the scholarship has begun to pay dividends. “With this support, our students will be able to fully focus on learning the skills that will empower them to join the high-tech workforce to propel our region's economy to the next level,” he says. “We are so appreciative of the Singhs for their commitment to our department and to our students, as well as to ensuring the economic vitality of our city and state.”


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