A native of India, Dr Paul won a Singapore Airlines Youth Scholarship to attend Victoria Junior College in Singapore. After finishing her A-levels in 1993, she was awarded another Singapore Airlines scholarship to pursue her undergraduate education at the National University of Singapore’s School of Business. She graduated in 1998 with First Class Honors, also receiving the BP Gold Medal as top student in the International Business concentration. As part of the terms of her scholarship, she worked for five years on the managerial track at Singapore Airlines. In 2003, she resigned to pursue a master’s in journalism at New York University (NYU). She completed her PhD in the joint program in Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2012).
Dr Paul’s journalism work has been published in the NYU Alumni Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, In The Fray, the Austin American-Statesman and Women’s eNews. Her stories regularly focused on immigration, globalization, race, gender and labor and it was her interest in these issues that led her to pursue a PhD in sociology and public policy at the University of Michigan (UM). Her doctoral studies were funded by several competitive UM fellowships, including a Rackham pre-doctoral dissertation fellowship and the Barbour Scholarship for Asian Women. Her National Science Foundation-funded dissertation, “Multinational Maids: Multistate Migration among Aspiring Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers”, highlights how countries like Singapore and Hong Kong are being used as “stepping stones” by aspiring Filipino migrants to accumulate additional savings and work experience so as to eventually secure employment in “dream destinations” like Canada. Her 2011 article on this topic recently won the American Sociological Association’s Global and Transnational Sociology section’s graduate student paper competition.
One of her next research projects focuses on another population of multistate migrants titled “Western-trained Asian scientists and their return migration to Asia”. This and all her other research projects share a dual focus on emerging patterns of migration to, from, and within Asia, and the advancement of migration theory as a whole. She has published sole-authored articles in several of the top journals within sociology, including the American Journal of Sociology (2011), Ethnic and Racial Studies (2011) and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (forthcoming – 2013).
Teaching and Residential Life
In line with Dr Paul’s research interests, she is eager to teach courses that deal with issues of race/ethnicity, migration, globalization, gender and labor, bringing a global focus to all of her classes. Dr Paul spent all four of her undergraduate years living in Raffles Hall, one of the oldest residence halls at NUS. Her heavy involvement in the daily life and leadership of Raffles Hall heavily shaped her undergraduate experience and she hopes to be as deeply involved in the co-curricular and extra-curricular life of Yale-NUS. Given her journalism background and two-year stint as Yearbook editor as an undergraduate, she is especially looking forward to working with Yale-NUS students interested in starting a college newspaper.
On Joining Yale-NUS College
There are some people who know from an early age what they want to do with their lives. I was not one of them. In junior college, I took my A levels in Physics, Economics, English Literature and Math, and loved each of these subjects equally. A liberal arts college education would have been ideal for me, if such a thing had been available in Singapore at the time. I know that there are many students in Singapore and Asia who yearn for such a well-rounded and flexible approach to undergraduate education and I am excited by the opportunity to be part of this pioneering initiative to bring liberal arts education to Singapore.
I hope to contribute to this endeavor in several ways. Most importantly, I hope to serve as a bridge between “East” and “West”, together with those of my colleagues who have either lived and/or studied in both Asia and the West. Though I was born in India, I left at the age of four when my father, a doctor, was offered a job at a hospital in Scotland. We lived there for three years and then in Saudi Arabia for six. Later, I lived by myself in Singapore for 13 years and, after that, in the United States for eight years. I see my various overseas experiences as providing me with a uniquely global and balanced perspective on current issues, which will serve me well when it comes to my teaching.
I am also thrilled to be moving back to Singapore. The island will serve as an excellent hub for my research on Asian migration patterns and also as a laboratory for my teaching ideas. As a qualitative researcher, I am excited about the prospect of taking my students outside the classroom and outside the campus-bubble, to conduct interviews and surveys with Singaporeans and migrants to Singapore. Through such experiences, I hope to instill in them, not only useful research and questioning skills but, equally important, greater empathy and understanding toward their fellow island-dwellers.