MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For nearly 39 years, Pat Singleton-Young has steadily broadened the scope of Coastal Carolina University’s diversity objectives.
She has been very influential in making sure the university accepts all students of all backgrounds. But her work as student and employee has done an incredible service to past, present and future students.
Singleton-Young was first a student at Coastal Carolina University, then became a dedicated staff member, serving in several roles from academic adviser to Director of Student Activities to Assistant Dean of Student Services.
In every role, she has wholeheartedly worked to broaden the horizon and the scope for CCU, to ensure the university is a true reflection of diversity and inclusion.
Her creative work and grit made her the first go-to person for tasks like planning Coastal’s first Welcome Week in 2007.
She's now retired but she has made a connection with many students.
“At first I started out as a big sister, then I became an aunt, then I was mom, and just recently I became a grand mom, oh you remind of me of my grandmother, and I would go ‘OK!’ That’s alright,” Singleton-Young laughs.
Singleton-Young has a lot of grand memories at Coastal Carolina University.
During our visit with her, she met with school officials to go over the ceremony scheduled for the end of March, in which a residence will be named in her honor.
We combed through dozens of black and photos, each one told a different story of her life on the campus.
It’s a pretty big deal, after all, she’s a Murrells Inlet native, who never thought secondary education was an option.
“Being poor in a rural area, I thought I would never get to go to college,” Singleton-Young explained. “My father worked at Brookgreen Gardens at the time, and the Kimbels, you know, Kimbel Library, Wheelwright Auditorium, so many buildings on the campus, are named after them, well they lived in Brookgreen Gardens. My father one day and went to him, and said, 'My daughter wants to go to school, but I can’t afford to send her to college," explained Singleton-Young. “Then the next thing I know his assistant or director, calls me and she helps me, she connected me with somebody here at Coastal, and they helped me with paperwork and everything, because Mr. Kimbel said you need to help get this young lady into college. So that’s how I got to Coastal. Very few people know that connection.”
She was accepted in the fall of 1971 and became a first-generation college student. She earned her Psychology degree in 1975 and moved onto the master’s program in counselor education.
Singleton-Young said she became involved in many activities, taking a leadership role in the Office of Student Activities, yearbook, newspaper, and Student Government Association.
Since stepping foot on campus, she has been all about promoting inclusion on-campus. She has helped establish many diversity programs, including the university’s first African-American organization, now called the African American Association, that has celebrated over 40 years.
Her superiors watched her tenacity, and it opened doors for her.
“I did a graduate assistanceship with the new Dean of Students. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, then he gives the approval for an assistant director,” said Singleton-Young. “You never know who’s watching, that is so, so true, because when I was approached, and said, ‘We’re creating this position, we want you to apply,’ I thought, ‘Wow, what an honor,’ for somebody to say I want you to apply for this job, and people were watching as I said, and I got the job.”
Throughout the years, Singleton-Young has played a significant role in making sure CCU understands the needs of all students, the importance of inclusion, and the magnitude of diversity. When you look at the university as it stands now, it’s because she constantly pushed the envelope.
“Broader and deeper, I kept saying, ‘Come on, you gotta look deeper and you’ve got accept people for people, and it can’t just be lip service,’” said Singleton-Young.
Singleton-Young retired in 2018 from her position as Director of Multicultural Student Services. She’s been keeping busy using her time to give back through community service with her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.
However, she admits she misses Coastal.
“I miss it, I miss it dearly. Not necessarily the paperwork, or the meetings, but I miss the one-on-one with students.” Singleton-Young said. “I tear up every time, and I’m about to tear up now. It’s like they’re my children, and for years, I didn’t have children, so they were my children."
So many success stories, so many students she’s helped walk across the graduation stage.
“I’ve got medical doctors, I’ve got dentists, I’ve got people who own their businesses, I’ve got people who have wrote their own books, very, very successful, and as I look back, I realize that the time invested was well spent, very well spent,” said Singleton-Young.
Friday, March 29, Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo and the Board of Trustees will dedicate one of residence halls in honor of her 38 years of dedicated service to the university.
The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at Tradition Lawn, in front of the former CINO Hall.
It will be the Pat Singleton-Young Residence Hall.