Highlighting the stories of Drake students and faculty. Photo courtesy of Hallie O’Neill.
Manasi Singh, a Drake University first-year studying law, politics and society and economics, would describe herself with the following three words: ambitious, honest and loyal. The most fundamental of these three is the first one, and she certainly has proof.
“In high school, I was kind of like the token feminist, I guess,” Singh said. “There were a lot of people who hated me for it, just because I was very outspoken.”
She decided to do something with this fire. As a junior at Valley High School in West Des Moines, she created an intersectional feminist club by the name of the Valley Tigresses, a wordplay on the school’s mascot.
“It was focused on educating people, specifically our school and our district, about what intersectional feminism means outside of the stereotypes feminists get, the man-haters and all that,” Singh said. “So the educating was the first part of it, and the second part of it was to promote education of women all over the world.”
The Tigresses’ first fundraiser, a three-hour nonstop Zumbathon planned by Singh and a few friends, netted over $1,500. The second fundraiser, a self-defense class, raised about $500.
“So many people came together to make it happen,” said Singh, who was hesitant to take too much credit for the club’s success. “I was the overseer of things, I guess, but there was no way I could’ve done it alone. It was pretty darn incredible.”
Singh said the fundraisers’ profits were sent over to India and Pakistan as donations to women’s education programs.
Singh’s family moved to Iowa from Jakarta, Indonesia when she was just two years old. Her parents support her unconditionally, but she recognizes the traditional mindset of her other relatives.
“My parents have always told me that, especially since I’m the oldest in the house, it’s up to me to prove to my relatives more than anyone else that girls and guys can do the same thing,” Singh said. “Anything is possible. It’s what you make of your life rather than who you are, whether you’re identifying as a guy or a girl or both or neither.”
She’s already begun spreading her influence. She noted that her 10-year-old sister, following in her big sister’s footsteps, talks to her classmates about feminism on the playground during recess.
As for her career path, she’s aiming high. Singh said that no matter what, she’s going to become a U.S. senator after attending law school.
But her absolute dream job is either a Supreme Court justice or the secretary of state.
“Right now I’m reading, this sounds so geeky, but I’m reading a book about the Supreme Court,” Singh said. “That’s how I de-stress after doing homework.”
For now, though, she’s adjusting to college life and finding her place here at Drake. She’s the equity and inclusion chair for Stalnaker Hall, a member of Delta Gamma and an intramural volleyball player.
In the near future, she plans to join student senate and become a PMAC and an orientation leader.
To say the least, she’s a go-getter.