“Always more, Always better, Always with love…..”

Sophia Devi [Sanskrit word meaning "goddess"] Singh, Villa Joseph Marine Class of 2012, is truly on the soar!

This VJM alumna, who recently began an M.S. Aerospace Engineering degree at the innovative, elite and internationally recognized University of Southern California, has been accepted to a second internship at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, studying Cosmic Microwave Background Polarimetry.

“Exciting news! I’ve recently begun an internship with Relativity Space. Along with NASA, Telesat, Spaceflight Industries, and Mu Space, we’ve added Momentus Space as a partner to launch small satellites into space.”

This unique experience is one of which she had only once dreamed.

Sophia is dedicated, incredibly determined and such a brilliant role model for young women. And she is quite clearly from an ‘out of this world’ background...

Sophia was born in London, England. Her family moved to Pasadena, CA when she was two years old and they resided there for several years.

Her father, Dr. Surinder Singh, Ph.D. was born in Penang, on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia and at the age of 15, he entered a boarding school in England. He later continued his studies and graduated with his degree in Biochemistry from King’s College in London, a public research university. Dr. Singh is now the well respected Senior Director of the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Companies [U.S] Field Medical Affairs.

Sophia’s mother, Cindia Elizabeth “Cindy” [Salas Ortiz] Singh was born in Chicago, IL but she grew up in the UK, in Carlisle in northwest England. Mrs. Singh generously volunteers and invests her time in hospice care, as well as in the educational non-profit, “Welcoming the Stranger”, offering free classes in English as a Second Language [ESL], computer skills, and USA citizenship exam preparation to adult immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia metro region. She is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

Actually, both of Sophia’s parents speak 3 languages. Her father’s repertoire includes Punjabi, the official language of the Indian state of Punjab.

Fortunately, Sophia was able to practice French with her mother while she mastered her 4 years of VJM French and then some of her language courses while in college.

Her younger sister, Shana Chandani [meaning “moonlight” in Hindi], Notre Dame ’19, has enrolled at Boston U., a leading private research institution, for January 2020. Shana enjoys creative writing and she is currently taking a creative writing course during this gap at BCCC.

Sophia is enamored with Science.

“I think I was born interested in science. My whole life, my parents have encouraged me. I always took home as many books from the library as I could on astronomy.”

Calculus is the firm advanced mathematical foundation of Sophia’s Aerospace Engineering studies. Sophia confirmed that Mrs. Lauren E. Carr, VJM '00, VJM Principal/ Director of Curriculum/ Teacher/Adjunct Professor/Mathematics/Texas Instruments T3 Regional Instructor both taught and truly inspired her in her Honors Precalculus and Trigonometry classes.

In addition to her course work, she is a Research Assistant researching pulsar timing arrays as a method of gravitational wave detection at Caltech.

Rockets and planes and aero fluid flow and thermo dynamics, oh my!

Sophia has set HIGH bars of success for herself apparently at all times.

The very confident and intelligent Sophia returned to VJM last spring to speak to and honor the 2019 senior class at their graduation ceremony at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday, June 1, 2019. She recalled her own graduation seven years prior in her speech and she reflected on her favorite classes and the future that awaited her across the country at USC.

She passionately communicated her inspirational words to the graduating JEMs with “Expect anything; make memories; experience everything life has to offer; and always remember to keep your family and friends close. Sometimes life is going to throw some curveballs at you and when you’re in that situation, just cross your fingers and hope it works out. Keep trying. Keep looking for another way. Keep thinking about your options.”

The scholastically sound Sophia has also always been very kind and gentle, exuding compassion and generosity. Mrs. Singh shared an unforgettable, powerful moment. “Sophia was little, in pre-school, when we lived in California. I was walking with my tiny little daughter when she saw a homeless woman with a pile of books in her cardboard house. Sophia wanted to give her food. To this day, she has kept the plastic purse that the woman Karen gave to her in thanks.”

Villa Joseph Marie, the premier, private, all-girls college preparatory high school located in Bucks County, not only expands minds with its tradition of excellence, but it has also expanded its facilities.

Along with the school’s newly built state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center [PAC] for its burgeoning population of thespians, artists, attorneys of tomorrow, musicians, vocalists, teachers and budding scientists, a cutting-edge, modern STEAM hallway, featuring renovated classrooms and a media center, is in the works to further hone academic skills, greatly preparing the JEMS for the future.

“Villa is the best school ever with the way we learned. It was a fun way to learn, often with dialogues and skits! Every welcoming and encouraging teacher was a mentor, willing to answer questions beyond the class. Everyone went out of their way! One year, Mrs. Carr had us dance in her Precalculus class and form common graph shapes with our arms.”

Sophia’s parents chose Villa Joseph Marie for their daughter. “They were focused on an all girls, Catholic school with a small student to faculty ratio.” VJM teachers get to know each student as an individual, and the dignity, potential and uniqueness of each student is always encouraged and celebrated. VJM students are provided with a variety of resources to enrich the curriculum, moving beyond traditional classroom boundaries, imparting them with confidence and skills to think outside the box. “They know us as a person. They are proud of us. They root for us!” The JEMS truly learn from the best!

“Villa’s emphasis on service impacted me as much as our focus on academics. Theology Department Chair, Ms. Stephanie Weaver, VJM '05’s social justice and morality classes had a huge impact on me. At USC, I spent one spring break working at a homeless shelter.”

Her favorite fun VJM memories include the senior class trip, the Thanksgiving feast, chicks with sticks, spirit week, the mother-daughter teas and father-daughter dances, the big sister/little sister program, the winter formals, proms and so much more.

And the VJM cafeteria chocolate chip cookies! She’ll never forget them.

Sophia was a French Club executive board member, and she participated in the Environmental Club as well, at Villa Joseph Marie. After school, she earned her first degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, a karate-based Korean martial art, and then she taught in the karate studio located in the historic Yardley Grist Mill.

Sophia also played the piano from the 3rd grade through her senior year in high school. Her music instructor came to their home and Mozart music became her favorite. She and her sister, Shana had the opportunity to perform a duet at a jazz recital.

Sophia’s mother also shared, “Sophia was always interested in the constellations and the stars. She said she wanted to go to the moon and she was always looking upwards.”

Confirmed! “For my birthday [in high school], I asked my dad to take me ‘to the middle of nowhere’ so that we could see the stars without city light pollution. My literal words were, ‘for my birthday, can we go to the middle of nowhere to look at the stars?”

Sophia actually has had the chance to see Mission Control and walk on the moon through virtual reality reconstructions of the Apollo landings while enrolled at USC.

Not surprisingly, a telescope was the most coveted 18th birthday present that Sophia received from her parents.

“I once had lunch with an astronaut, a laureate Nobel Prize winning Physicist, and other scientists and engineers who really inspired me. An astronaut once liked my post on Instagram and I messaged him, “You liked my post and it made my life!’”

But according to the book of Sophia, introductory flying lessons also make great gifts!

As one to always appreciate “experience kind of gifts”, she fondly recalls very key moments.

“One time I flew a Cessna 172p Skyhawk, and then another time, a 172r aircraft in Princeton Flying School. They were combined birthday/ Christmas presents.”

“Think about whatever it is that gets you fired up about life and go for it. Just apply. You never know what might happen.”

Sophia will be back to visit her Villa Joseph Marie family in October, and the Science Department chair, John Gentile, who was her Physics teacher, has invited her to join them when VJM hosts its 30th annual Sciathlon in lab-based activities and a "Jeopardy"-style science competition.

“Sophia is a great student. She truly is an example of someone who has flourished because of the growth she experienced at Villa. It is an honor to have played such an impactful role in her education; especially since she chose a career in my favorite science field —physics.”

Sophia can clearly recall watching an episode of “The Universe” on the History Channel in Mr. Gentile’s class. Coincidentally, one of the guests featured was a USC professor.

“You just never know what might happen. Go find it. Enjoy!”

Recommend a “Children Are Our Future” Spotlight article. E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com

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