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‘After battling cancer, I wanted to help my community’: Apeejay alumna and member of Sonu Sood’s charity foundation

Aruna Singh, an alumna of both Apeejay Mahavir Marg and Apeejay College of Fine Arts, also runs a company that aims to inculcate employable skills in the youth

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Aruna Singh, founder of WINGS- For My Dreams, with Sonu Sood

Apeejay alumna Aruna Singh is not someone who accepts defeat in the face of a crisis, even when it is fatal. Aruna was diagnosed with cancer last year, a second time after she battled it in 2018. What keeps her motivated is the support of her family and peers, besides her immense zeal to contribute to her community. Her desire to help people took shape in 2019 in the form of her venture WINGS- For My Dreams with the objective of “mobilisiing and partnering with business entrepreneurs to skill India’s youth,” reads the company website. Not just that, Aruna is also part of the core team of actor Sonu Sood’s eponymous charity foundation. The alumna who studied in Apeejay Mahavir Marg in the 80s, followed by Apeejay College of Fine Arts, tells us more about her journey in an interview. Read on:

You did your schooling at Apeejay Mahavir Marg followed by your graduation at Apeejay College of Fine Arts. Take us through that journey.

joined Apeejay Mahavir Marg when it had just started in a rented building. I was among the first few students at the school. I witnessed the school grow into a full-fledged institution and we as students grew along with it as per Apeejay’s motto “Soaring high is my nature”. I had an equally great experience while pursuing classical dancing at Apeejay College of Fine Arts.

I joined school when I was five and now, I am going to turn 55. In these 50 years, what has remained intact is my relationship with my school friends. We are still very closely bonded. We are a group of 36 alumni from the class of 84 who make sure to get together from time to time—in fact, we recently had a small reunion event.

How was WINGS- For My Dreams born?

Throughout my professional career, I extensively worked in the field of sales. In my last position before WINGS, I handled the international money transfer business at Western Union as the President—I was managing the entire network of over 80 countries. In 2018, I was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer with no surety of survival. But I have always had the survival instinct in me and finally overcame cancer that year. In 2019, I decided not to go back to the corporate world but do something to give back to the community—I thought perhaps if I share my experiences with the younger generation, it may help them in some way. Through WINGS, I wanted to help students, especially the underprivileged ones, to gather different employable skills and make a satisfying career for themselves. That is what prompted me to start this venture.

In 2021, cancer hit me again. Now I am in remission.

You are working with Sonu Sood as part of Sood Charity Foundation. What has the experience been like?

Sonu is like a younger brother to me. We have been friends for a long time. Now, I help him out in the work he is doing across the country, which I really appreciate. What I have learned from Sonu Sood himself and all the charity work that is being done by Sood Foundation is that we rise by lifting others and in charity, there is no excess.

It is inspirational to see how you are dedicated to helping others even while coping with a personal health crisis. What is your source of strength?

All my friends, family members, and colleagues keep telling me that I am very strong, and that I am going to get through this crisis too. With so many people saying this, I take it as my responsibility to keep well—people have that faith that cancer can be overcome. Through my journey, I want to tell people that cancer is not the end of life. One can win over this.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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