Happiness a way of life for Rekhi Singh, 2021 President's Medal recipient
July 20, 2021
Before going to sleep each night, Rekhi Singh thinks about all the things for which he is grateful, no matter how small.
It’s just one way Singh ’88 (MBA) practices the science of happiness in his daily life – a science he first became interested in six years ago and has promoted since.
He wants to be happy, and he wants others to be happy. To that end, in 2019, the businessman and entrepreneur established Sacramento State’s first endowed professorship, the Rekhi Singh Endowed Professor of Happiness.
For Singh’s contributions to the campus, President Robert S. Nelsen has awarded him the 2021 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service. The medal is given to individuals who provide outstanding service to the community, to higher education, or to the public and common good.
“As a university dedicated to caring and belonging, I can think of no better place to study happiness,” Nelsen said. “In a year when our students, faculty, and staff have persevered through unprecedented situations, now is the time to reflect on the things that bring us joy.
“Mr. Singh has made a real and positive impact on our campus and our community, and I am so grateful for his generosity.”
Housed in the Department of Psychology, the endowed professorship is meant to promote happiness through academic research, curriculum development, partnerships across campus, and other activities.
Meliksah Demir, a national expert on happiness, was appointed to the position and began teaching classes in Spring 2021. His students spent the semester learning about the history of happiness studies, how happiness is measured, its benefits, differences across cultures and nations, and how to become happier people.
Singh said he was glad to see the position filled, and called Demir “highly motivated.”
Born in India, Singh earned his undergraduate degree in Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, where in 2017 he established the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness. Knowing he wanted to attend graduate school in California, he immigrated to the United States in 1987, settling in Sacramento by chance and enrolling in Sac State’s Master of Business Administration program.
Though largely unfamiliar with the campus, he said, what he knew of the program impressed him. Once at Sacramento State, he found professors who made themselves accessible to students, supportive peers, and a program that, unlike those in India, allowed him to choose his courses. Knowing he wanted to start a business, he studied Marketing.
“Mr. Singh has made a real and positive impact on our campus and our community, and I am so grateful for his generosity.” - President Robert S. Nelsen
Today, Singh is chief executive officer of R Systems, a global, publicly traded company he founded that specializes in information technology outsourcing across industries, including banking and finance, telecom and digital media, retail and e-commerce, health care, manufacturing and logistics. He also serves as managing director for the company’s board of directors and, with his wife Harpreet Kaur Rekhi, as a trustee of the Rekhi Foundation for Happiness.
“Sacramento State gave me a well-rounded education into business, and I was exposed to the U.S. culture and its way of doing things,” Singh said. “When I look back at my life, I would not be here if it was not for Sac State and the education I got there. That is something I feel very grateful about.”
Two years after his gift to Sac State, his message to the Hornet Family is all about positivity.
“Happiness is a journey, not a destination,” Singh said. “All we have is a moment. The rest is past, which is gone, and future, which hasn’t arrived. We need to live that moment for happiness. Time travelling to past and future brings regret, anxiety, worry – unhappiness. Enjoy the moment.”
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