Melissa Singh, EdD, LCSW has over twenty years of online teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Virtual Academic Center at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Dr. Singh is in the Social Change and Innovation Department and is the course lead for Design Laboratory for Social Innovation I & II. She earned her doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership from USC Rossier School of Education. She received her master’s in Health Services Administration in 2000 and her master’s in Social Work in 2006 both from the University of Central Florida.
Dr. Singh’s research interests include building inclusive learning environments, trauma-informed education, environmental justice through disaster preparedness and response as well as creative disruption to induce innovation. Trained by The National SEED (seeking educational equity and diversity) Project as a SEED leader. She serves on the CSWE Council for Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity as well as the NASW National Committee on Nominations & Leadership Identification, Region VII Representative.
Dr. Singh is an NASW Advanced Certified Hospice, Palliative Care Social Worker, and Board-Certified Pharmacy Technician. She is trained in EMDR and Field Traumatology. She has extensive healthcare knowledge in hospice, hospital, and private settings as well as disaster response experience. Dr. Singh serves on the board of directors at Central Florida Community Health Centers. A program that she co-led won the Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education from SAGE/CSWE for Educating Social Work Students for Macro Practice. Dr. Singh was awarded the Hutto Patterson Distinguished Faculty Award for excellence in teaching; service to the university, the school, and the community; and accessibility to students.
USC Rossier School of Education: EdD, Organizational Change and Leadership 2017
University of Central Florida: MS, Social Work 2006
University of Central Florida: MS, Health Services Administration 2000
University of South Florida: BA, Psychology 1999
Valencia Community College: AA 1997
Areas of Expertise (15)
Diversity & Inclusion
Social Work Education
Social Justice and Equal Rights
Hospice and Palliative Care
Innovation & Creativity
Mental Health Recovery
Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace
Non Profit Management
Industry Expertise (10)
Mental Health Care
Health Care - Services
Health Care - Providers
Health and Wellness
USC Center for Excellence in Teaching Faculty Fellow (professional)
The CET Faculty Fellow Leadership Institute is a program designed to assist senior faculty in becoming teacher leaders—developing practices, initiatives, and policies to further their school’s goals toward teaching excellence. Faculty Fellows will be trained to facilitate the CET-developed curriculum for School-Based Institutes for mid-career colleagues in their own schools, helping them apply best teaching practices to the unique learning environments and pedagogies of their discipline.
SEED Leader (professional)
The National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)SM partners with schools, organizations, and communities to develop leaders who guide their peers in conversational communities to drive personal, organizational, and societal change toward social justice. SEED New Leaders Week is a seven-day, residential workshop at which 50 to 60 educators, parents, community leaders, and professionals from different fields are immersed in multicultural SEED materials and methods.
Hutto Patterson Distinguished Faculty Award for excellence in teaching; service to the university, the school, and the community; and accessibility to students (professional)
Recognizes a faculty member for excellence in teaching who has demonstrated outstanding service to the university, the school, and the community.
SAGE/CSWE Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education (professional)
The annual SAGE/CSWE Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education is presented by SAGE, working in collaboration with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The award's purpose is to promote innovative teaching in social work by highlighting it as it emerges, and recognize the individuals who have played significant roles in bringing it about. https://www.cswe.org/Events-Meetings/APM-Archives/2016-APM/About/Awards/SAGE-CSWE-2016-Award-for-Innovative-Teaching
- Cornerstone Hospice
- Community Health Centers FL
- The National SEED Project
- Council on Social Work Education
- National Association of Social Work
- Association for Community Organization & Social Action
Jane Batten, MSW Student | USC
"You are a Great professor. I enjoy your classes. I always walk away refreshed and motivated in my journey. You provide good energy to your classes. It does NOT go unnoticed."
Media Appearances (3)
Where to begin? Relieving the Stress from the Election, Pandemic and Social Unrest
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work News print
As the United States looks toward January 20, 2021 and the inauguration of a new president, its citizens continue to deal with the stress and anxiety of the global pandemic, fights for equality and racial justice, and an election cycle rife with anger and, most recently, violence and incursion. Social workers may find themselves in a unique position of leadership, helping individuals and communities cope, heal and move forward. According to Dorian Traube, associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and mental health expert, people are suffering the fatigue of chronic discrimination, social unrest and moral quandaries. “I think it’s definitely reached a kind of critical mass right now, with the storming of the Capitol,” Traube said. “These are things we haven’t seen in hundreds of years… in my mind you cannot extract what happened at the Capitol from what happened this summer with Black Lives Matter protests.” Many people have heightened anxiety; they are feeling despondent and dismayed. Particularly in Los Angeles, where the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted certain communities, people are experiencing even more isolation from their normal social support networks. "I think all of that combined is leaving people feeling like they are very depressed, very overwhelmed, very anxious and not able to tap into their normal coping strategies that they've had in the past because it's kind of like a brave new world,” Traube said.
Unchained Scholars Break Barriers, Support One Another
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work News online
Many social work students have lived experiences that have led them to careers helping others, said Melissa Singh, clinical associate professor, and faculty co-advisor to the Unchained Scholars student interest group. “It is important for students to reflect on their journey and consider the barriers they have overcome, their strengths, and support system. Often resilience is attributed to someone helping them along the way and Unchained Scholars are doing just that for each other and for future students” Singh said. Singh tries to be attuned to the experiences her students have had and create what she calls a brave learning environment where students can lean into a conversation and share different opinions and perspectives. “As faculty members, we have to be aware of the past becoming present in the classroom,” Singh said. “The curriculum and internship experiences may be retraumatizing for some students, which makes the support systems within the schools crucial for their success.” The Unchained Scholars student interest group helps fill gaps by connecting students with similar experiences to one another for support.
Healing and Talking Guns in a Post Orlando World
Huffington Post online
Healing and Talking Guns in a Post Orlando World LGBT people are twice as likely to be targeted for hate crimes than any other minority group according to FBI data. “This statistic creates a mindset of expectation. Possibly, it may not have been of question of it, but rather when. Knowing that one is a member of a group that’s hated does intensify the response to the crime,” said Melissa Singh MSW, adjunct lecturer, University of Southern California, School of Social Work. Singh says crimes directed towards stigmatized groups can leave people feeling vulnerable and wondering, “what if I’m next?”
Research Grants (1)
Co-I Primary Care Project
HRSA $3.25 Million
Available to all campus-based and VAC MSW students, the five-year Primary Care Project will help MSW students from disadvantaged backgrounds fulfill their training in integrated behavioral health services within a primary care setting as part of their final MSW internship. Each year, 22 students will receive a $30,000 scholarship. The program launched in July 2020, thanks to a $3.25 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration FY20 Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program. https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/325-million-grant-helps-msw-students-underserved-communities
Professional Experience & Partnerships (1)
Keeping It 100
Keeping It 100
Keeping it 100 is about living our best life, thriving as our most authentic selves, creating change in the world, and being at a 100%. This site provides highly curated resources and events to help you cut through the noise to get you to what truly matters- transformation. joy. radical self-care.
Design Laboratory for Social Innovation I integrates design thinking with a norms-driven approach for social innovation. Students will diagnose social norms and apply design-thinking techniques to develop design criteria.
Integrative Learning for Social Work Practice
Integrative learning organized as a small group educational environment that incorporates field experiences, case vignettes, and dialogical inquiry through a Problem Based Learning framework.
Applied Learning in Field Education
Supervised field education where students learn and apply evidence-based interventions and clinical skills in practice labs and social work settings.
Integrative Learning for Advanced Social Work Practice
Advanced integrative learning that incorporates field experiences, evidenced-based interventions, case vignettes and dialogical inquiry through a Problem Based Learning framework.
Advanced Applied Learning in Field Education
Advanced supervised field education where students practice social work skills and apply evidence-based interventions, including some that are specific to their academic department.
Students will showcase the innovations they have developed during the program as the capstone projects and highlight their ongoing leadership roles. They will exhibit their solutions to social work Grand Challenges through exercises, speaking engagements, workshops, and key informant meetings. Students will share their ideas, engaging possible funders, innovators, policymakers, and stakeholders. To accomplish this, students will be asked to take positions of leadership and proactively be involved in utilizing course material (learning), challenging their knowledge base (reading and synthesis), and articulating their ideas with the goal of influencing the overall profession (critical thinking).
Research Articles & Publications (7)
Trauma-Informed Interview Coaching: An Innovative Approach to Achieve Equal Opportunity and Social Justice in Field EducationField Educator: Simmons School of Social Work
Danielle E. Brown, MSW University of Southern California; Susan L. Hess, MSW University of Southern California; Melissa Indera Singh, EdD University of Southern California
In 2018, field faculty at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work launched a pilot project called Trauma-Informed Interview Coaching (TIIC). The project’s goals were to support justice-involved MSW students during the field placement process, to decrease failed agency interviews, and to reduce agency replacements. This project is ongoing and data on its outcomes are being collected and evaluated.
Leave me alone: Violence against women in Trinidad and TobagoOxford University Press
Prakash, N., Singh, M. I., Prevot, J., Gopie, S., Vorster, J., & Averkiou, P.
Editors: Zaleski, K. L., Enrile, A., Weiss, E.L., & Wang, X. In this chapter the authors explore the prevalence of intimate partner violence and violence against women on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Contextual factors such as intersectionality and familial, political, and socio-cultural lens were used to analyze violence in the Caribbean. Recommendations are made to elevate the status of women and discussion questions are offered.
When the past is present in the classroom: Utilizing a trauma-informed approach in the virtual setting.Cambridge Scholars Publishing: London.
Brown, D., Baron, M.W., Cardinal, L, Hess, S., & Singh, M.I.
Editor: R. Paul Maiden In this chapter, the authors explore how students in social work bring their histories into their practice. Faculty members need to be aware especially in a virtual learning environment that students may be grappling with challenges from the past in addition to current stressors. Using a Trauma-informed teaching methodology based on SAMHSA's guiding principles of trauma-informed care educators can begin to create a safe, empowering, and supportive learning environment.
The Virtual Field Practicum: Building core competencies prior to agency placement.Journal of Social Work Education.
Phillips, E. S., Wood, G. J., Yoo, J., Ward, K. J., Hsaio, S. C., Singh, M. I., & Morris B.
This article describes Virtual Field Practicum, an online skill-building experience, designed to prepare social work interns for the demands of clinical practice and compares it to a traditional internship model.
Training social workers to be inclusive practitioners: The role of faculty developmentProquest Dissertations Publishing
Singh, M. I.
As the landscape of America changes, it is critical for social workers to successfully engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate diverse client populations. As such, it is important for schools of social work to prepare graduate students to engage in “diversity and difference in practice” (Council on Social Work Education, 2015, p. 7). Virtual education holds unique challenges and opportunities for teaching social work students how to address diversity. In this exploratory qualitative study, faculty teaching in an online master of social work degree program participated in focus groups (N=23), one-on-one interviews (N=3), and an online survey (N=70) regarding their experiences teaching diversity. Using the Clark and Estes’ (2008) framework, the findings are categorized by knowledge, motivation, and organizational influences to teaching diversity.
Implementing a Collaborative Support Model for Educators Reporting Child MaltreatmentChildren & Schools
Bell, M. & Singh, M. I.
Educators periodically encounter the need to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect. Studies show that school professionals recognize more than half of maltreated children. Because of uncertainty with reporting policies, practices, and procedures, this experience may be difficult for the educator before, during, or after a report is made, which precipitates a variety of emotions and a need for support. Many educators often encounter challenges and barriers with reporting procedures within the school settings. Educators who lack support in their educational institution may fail to report their suspicion of child maltreatment. This article explores child maltreatment reporting practices from the point of view of an educator in a school setting and proposes strategies to address reporting practices effectively. Appropriate intervention and services are required to meet the needs of children when there is a suspicion of abuse and neglect and are built into a model that can shape training, policies, and procedures. Therefore, strategies that cultivate immediately and legally responsive environments are imperative in the educational setting to begin to reduce the number of maltreated child cases that are unreported.
Virtual Academic Challenges To Real-Time TraumaPractice Digest
Susan Hess, MSW University of Southern California; Melissa Indera Singh, MSW University of Southern California; Mary Walker Baron, MSW University of Southern California
Helping graduate-level social work students address and process recent mass-casualty violence is a challenge to any classroom. We feel it is especially challenging when the classroom is virtual. While the virtual format allows for video and audio contact, students and instructors maybe thousands of miles apart and see each other, like the old Hollywood Squares television program, from only the shoulders to the top of the head. Our Virtual Academic Center (VAC), while in most ways a marvel of technology, does present special challenges when faculty is confronted with such sensitive issues as the killings in Orlando, the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.