Paralympian balances sports, academics

Jerome Singleton got a late start on classes this fall, a rare experience for this standout engineering student. But the 2008 Paralympian, who competed in September in the Beijing games, has been catching up at top speed.
(Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

Singleton ran anchor in the men's 4x100 meter to clinch a new world record at 42.75 seconds and win the gold. In the 100 meter, he ran 11.20 seconds, only three-hundredths of one second behind storied Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, to take silver.

After the games' Sept. 17 closing ceremonies, he flew to Ann Arbor and hit the ground running.

Singleton — a participant in U-M's Atlanta University Center Dual-Degree in Engineering Program (DDEP) — transferred to the University this semester, following four years at Morehouse College with a 3.85 grade-point average. He joined 29 other students from Clark-Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman colleges who have enrolled in the College of Engineering (CoE) since President Mary Sue Coleman signed the DDEP agreement in 2003.

Through DDEP, Singleton will simultaneously receive a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and applied physics from Morehouse and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in industrial and operations engineering from CoE.

Singleton has held internships at the CERN Large Hadron Collider at Geneva, Switzerland, where he helped explore the probability of finding different dimensions with the LHC, and at the Park City Mathematical Institute in Park City, Utah, where he delved into Brownian Motion and Random Walk theories.

Singleton's journey to Ann Arbor began in Irmo, S.C., the rapidly growing suburb where he grew up 10 miles from the state capital, Columbia. When he was 18 months old, doctors amputated his right leg below the knee in response to a congenital birth defect. He and his brother and sister attended Dutch Fork High School, where Jerome graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average and lettered in football, and track and field/hurdling.

While in high school, his father, Jerome Singleton Sr., insisted all three siblings hold manual labor jobs, "So you will understand the work you will be doing if you don't go to college." Singleton's job was with a logging company lifting, measuring and stacking logs; driving a forklift; and cutting grass with a sling blade.

The lesson took. Singleton applied to and was accepted to five schools. He chose Morehouse. During the Morehouse years, a cousin suggested Jerome take a look at Industrial and Operations Engineering to further his interest in health systems quality control.

"Morehouse has the DDEP, which will allow me to complete two bachelor's degrees in another two years," he says."Well, I'm going to try to do it in a year-and-a-half."