Renard Singleton

Renard Singleton, a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health in Psychology and native of the Harold L. Ickes housing projects, served in the United States Marine Corps for 21 years. His five tours of duty include two in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. One of his two near death experiences occurred on February 7, 2007, in Al Anbar Province, which is located in western Iraq.

“We were present in the area to assist the Iraqi people and neutralize the forces of disruption. A suicide bomber detonated 15 pounds of C4. We lost seven soldiers, and another six, including myself, were evacuated. This was not my last close brush with death.”

In fact, Singleton remained enlisted another five years, completing his last tour of active combat in 2010 in Afghanistan, where he again thought his final breath was imminent.

Singleton’s years in the military have greatly influenced his area of focus for graduate study here at CSU.

“There are large numbers of young men and young women military veterans who return to civilian life regularly. Many of them are trying to find what I define as a ‘new normal’ while dealing with issues of coping. The military offers purpose, rules of engagement, etc. But when it all stops, all in one day, what do you do? How do you establish your next moves, your values and purpose? What do you do with the memories, training and other aspects of service when outside of the military?”

Singleton, in his pursuit of redefining and “re-finding” himself, was drawn to psychology and counseling instead of his original plan of Pre-Law. He believes helping young people, both veterans of the military as well as veterans of Chicago’s street violence, is his calling.

“When a car battery dies you get a jump. Some folks have a hard time getting a jump. Not everyone has roadside assistance, and some lack the ability to call for help. I want to be someone that helps. I grew up in the Ickes and didn’t experience the magnitude of violence our youth deal with today, even elementary school children are traumatized. Kids and young adults need psychological counseling and guidance to help them address the situations in our communities.”

Mentoring is important to Mr. Singleton, and he is thankful for the many guides at CSU whom have helped shape his life.

“So many professors, faculty and staff have helped me put it all together throughout my years at CSU. But the man who changed my life was Baba Ron “Kwesi” Harris, founder of the African American Resource Center. Baba Kwesi was God sent. He was a father to me and many men at CSU. Had it not been for CSU, Baba Kwesi and faith I do not know where I would be.”

Singleton continues to work with AAMRC, serving as a mentor with the Teaching and Educating Men of Black Origin (TEMBO) program. He is also president of the Student Government Association and is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

“CSU helped me breathe again. CSU saved my life.”