Faculty role brings new College of Nursing professor’s Wayne State life full circle

Assistant Professor (Clinical) Navdeep Singh, PhD, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, is one of the newest faculty members at the Wayne State University College of Nursing. He’s also an alumnus of the college’s PhD and BSN Second Career/Degree programs, but his experience at Wayne State goes well beyond academics. In fact, he’s been a Warrior his entire life.
“I grew up here, and this entire campus became my playground when my dad came here in 1981 and became a professor at the College of Engineering,” Singh said.

Singh being held by his father, Harpreet, on campus in 1985

Wayne State has always been home for Singh. His father, Professor Harpreet Singh, still teaches in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and his mother, Devinder Kaur, received her PhD from the same department in 1992.

Singh spent much of his childhood in the Helen L. DeRoy Apartments on Anthony Wayne Drive, which were demolished in 2019. Some of his most memorable moments took place on campus, such as playing hide and seek in Gullen Mall and soaking passing students with water guns. One of his fondest memories was running a lemonade stand in front of Chatsworth Towers for students and the construction workers who built the David Adamany Undergraduate Library in 1997.

Singh has witnessed the dramatic evolution of campus throughout his life, seeing the Faculty Administration Building, Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center, UGL, Welcome Center, WSU Bookstore and new housing facilities change the university’s footprint in the heart of the city.

“I lived on campus from 1985 until 2007 in the DeRoy Apartments. In 2019, they tore down DeRoy. It was sad to see your home get demolished, but change is a part of life,” Singh said. “Now everything’s changed. It’s nice to see — Wayne State has so much campus life now that it didn’t have previously.”

After receiving his master’s in nursing science from Madonna University, Singh returned to Wayne State to receive his PhD in nursing in 2021, focusing his studies on racial disparities with African Americans with cancer pain. His lifelong connection to WSU drew him back for his doctoral studies, and it’s kept him around to help lead future generations of nurses like him.

Singh with his parents, son and PhD Director April Vallerand at his PhD graduation in 2021

“I came back here for my PhD because Wayne State really is my home,” he said. “I joined the faculty because I know what nursing students go through from my experience in the CD2 program, and I want to help them succeed. I feel like I can empathize with students in a unique way because I’ve walked in their shoes. Wayne State opened every door for me, and I want to help open doors for others.”

Singh also aims to make an impact through his research interests, which include sickle cell disease and examining new clinical interventions to treat the blood disorder. In September, he attended the Sickle Cell Matters Awareness Walk hosted by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Michigan Chapter in Detroit with his family to show support for National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

Singh’s interest in sickle cell research ties into the reason he wanted to become a nurse in the first place: His experience living with beta thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder impacting the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Singh would often share a room with sickle cell patients when admitted to the hospital and saw how debilitating the disease can be.

Singh at 7 months old being held by his mother’s cousins in front of McGregor Memorial Conference Center in 1985

“I’ve had to get a blood transfusion once a month, every month, for as long as I can remember,” he explained. "I grew up in the health care setting. I’ve known my nurses since I was four years old, and when I got married I had them stand at my wedding because they watched me grow up.”

Having spent so much time on campus and in hospitals, Singh understands the impact of both a Wayne State education and a skilled, compassionate nurse. In his faculty role, he’s focused on helping new generations of nursing Warriors make a difference.

“I love my nurses and I know what they did for me,” he said. “I hope somehow I can give that back, because nursing and Wayne State are so much a part of who I am.”

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