Success by Degrees

Ex-Serviceman Earns Associate Degree, Aims for Bachelor’s

Graylin Edward “G” Singleton Jr. possesses an easygoing manner, a passing resemblance to musician Lenny Kravitz – so his friends say – and an Associate of Applied Science in Electronics from Austin Community College.

It’s an accomplishment that took some sweat, blood, and tears, yet he knows it will give him a firm foundation for achieving his next goals: a bachelor’s degree and, eventually, a teaching certificate.

“You have to work hard for what you want,” he says.

Singleton’s path to ACC was not a direct one. A native of South Carolina, he joined the Army after graduating from high school in 1997. While he recognized the value of education, college was not the path usually taken in his family at that time. The military, he thought, would fulfill his desire to see other parts of the world.

He did travel to other places, including Iraq, Korea, and Colombia. Eventually, though, he felt he had satisfied his commitment of service to his country, and the prospect of another deployment led him to make a change.

Singleton left the Army but decided to continue the training in electronics he had received. He considered UT-Austin but eventually chose ACC for its affordability and the prospect of smaller class sizes.

“I like small classroom environments – being able to be one-on-one with the teacher,” he says.

Settling in at ACC was somewhat easy. Singleton was accepted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, where one of his first activities was a service project at Eeyore’s Birthday Party, a quintessentially Austin event held for Winnie the Pooh’s famous friend. He also connected with classmates who provided an impetus for his naturally competitive nature.

“I try to get the highest grade in the class,” he says, adding that he likes to keep his work organized and turn in homework so polished that other students tell him it should be framed.

While here, Singleton discovered a passion for math. He began tutoring at the Riverside Campus Learning Lab and became a peer tutor with the Supplemental Instruction Program, which facilitates peer-led review sessions and study groups to help students better understand their course material.

Now, that passion is defining the next step in his journey: He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in math and a teaching certificate. He knows his background and his tutoring experience give him unique insight into the challenges others are facing.

“I want to stay with the students and give back to them what I have learned,” he says. “They say to me, ‘I thank you so much because you have patience. You explain it to me in a way I can understand, and you don’t look down on me.’ ”

Singleton advises other students to speak up when they have doubts, to take full advantage of the resources around them, and to remember that education is for everyone who seeks it. In the end, he says, the payoff will be great.

“When you strive hard and you come out on top after all that commitment you’ve put into it, you feel rewarded. That to me is success.”

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