Former KC hurdler Sherwayne Allen the only black graduate in Pure Mathematics at Auburn

By May 07, 2021

When former Kingston College student-athlete Sherwayne Allen graduated from Auburn University on Saturday, May 1, he was the only black graduate with a degree in Pure Mathematics. He was also the first member of his immediate family to graduate from university.

Saturday also marked the end of a journey of acquiring his first degree and the start of another, his pursuit of a Master’s in the field of Data Sciences.

Looking back at that day, Allen said it was an emotional time for him.

“I had mixed emotions at my graduation. When I think back to all the obstacles I have faced from Jamaica, in college, being the only black kid in the majority of these classes and was the only black graduate in Mathematics, to now reaching the climax of it all, I was elated so much so that I almost cried,” he told Sportsmax.TV.

"Being the first of my immediate family to go to a university is a great accomplishment for me. Not having my parents experiencing university, made it somewhat of a challenge as certain questions I could not ask them and would have to seek outside help. But my parents are extremely proud of my achievements.

“However, I also had feelings of uncertainty of my next move, although I have opportunities awaiting me. The emotions were so wild that two weeks prior I could not stay asleep. Most days I only got four hours of rest, even throughout my finals and leading up to the big day."

Growing up, life itself was challenging for Allen. The only child for Wayne and Sherrell Allen, Sherwayne was born into humble circumstances in Kingston where he spent the first six years of his life. He revealed that those early years were not easy for him or his family.

“Well, life for me growing up in Richmond Park was a challenge. Some days were worse than others, whether it was the occasional gunshots that would echo or the financial constraints of my parents which motivated me to want better for myself,” he said.

“I am the only child for both my parents. As far I can remember, initially, my dad was working at the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) in Spanish Town before being laid off, while my mom went to school for fashion designing at Garmex in downtown Kingston.”

His parents eventually separated and he and his mother moved to Spanish Town, St. Catherine as she sought a better life for herself and her then six-year-old son.

“I moved to Angels (Estates) because my parents were having problems and my mom wanting a better life for us as a family. However, my dad did not come with us,” he recalled.

It was while living in Spanish Town he discovered his passion for engineering.

“I always had an interest in creating traps, trying to catch rodents in my backyard which was always unsuccessful,” he recalled. “However, this sparked my enthusiasm for the field of engineering primarily civil engineering.”

While attending Angels Primary School, Sherwayne developed a liking for sports, specifically football and athletics but it was not until he attended Kingston College, that he found his niche in track and field as well as a lasting friendship with 200/400m standout Akeem Bloomfield.

“Kingston College was one of the best decisions of my life. Due to the ‘all-roundedness’ of the institution, I was exposed to the different lifestyles of my brothers from different parts of Jamaica. While at KC, I started my career in the 800m before transitioning to the 400m hurdles as I thought it would be easier in obtaining a scholarship to study abroad,” he said.

“My friendship with Akeem started from fifth form while we both doing the sciences and track and field at the same time. I remember that year after we both started the season well, closer to the end we got injured. I got injured before Champs while he got injured during Champs and missing an opportunity to make a Jamaica team,” he recalled.

“We then both attended the same extra math class. Coincidentally, we found out we lived in the same neighbourhood.”

Bloomfield, he revealed, influenced his decision to attend Auburn where the bond of friendship became even stronger.

Never an outstanding athlete at KC, Sherwayne did his best to contribute to the school’s pursuit of the coveted Mortimer Geddes trophy, the symbol of high school athletic supremacy at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships. Between 2012 and 2016, he earned valuable points for the school even as he missed out on medals in the 800m and 400m hurdles.

His performances, though, were good enough to win him a scholarship to Auburn University where while still being a middling performer in the 400m hurdles, he rubbed shoulders with World Championships gold medalists Jonielle Smith and Natalliah Whyte and also forged a new friendship with NCAA 400m medalist and World Championship finalist Nathon Allen. He also strengthened the bonds of a friendship that began at KC with Bloomfield.

But leaving Jamaica to attend school in Alabama, proved to be quite a challenge for Sherwayne, who lifted the lid on what life can be like as a student-athlete in a foreign land.

“The transition from Kingston to Auburn for me was a big culture shock as being from Jamaica to  Alabama was an experience. I oftentimes found it boring, accompanied by the fact that 90 per cent of people there were of different ethnicity, had a different culture, and as such had different ways of doing and saying stuff than what I was accustomed to,” he said.

“I always had to make sure my English was clear and slow while communicating which initially was quite annoying.”

There were other more significant challenges as well.

“I initially ventured off to Auburn to become a civil engineer. However, because of my lack of self-discipline at the time, I lost focus. Because of scholarship requirements, I could not retake the class I had failed and had to switch my major. The school wanted me to do Exercise Science or another "easy" major as it would have been easier for me to pass and compete at the same time,” he said.

“However, I had no intentions of doing that. I found Mathematics as a way of staying close to my dream at the time of becoming an engineer.”

He continued: “Life for me being a student-athlete was rough, especially for me doing such a demanding major. I remember day-after-day full of classes. I would have a workout where I was literally on the verge of seeing the face of God!

“I would then have to take my dead legs up to get dinner really quick and head to tutoring. I would be there from 7 to 10, four days a week for the whole semester. The challenges that came with that for me personally was seeing other student-athletes partying, spending little to no time in tutoring and just living their best life. Also being an athlete we had all these responsibilities, such as going to meetings and early morning drug tests while still having to be a student and maintain the grades in classes so that we can compete.”

However, it was not all bad. Having his fellow Jamaicans close by provided some measure of relief to the grind of life as a student-athlete.

“Sharing a dorm with Nathon was good. I didn't know him prior, other than seeing him run and competing against Akeem. However, he was very humble and quiet. We all built a brotherhood and camaraderie, especially seeing that we all came at the same time and being Jamaicans,” he said.

“I have fond memories of when we were all together always making jokes, cooking and playing games together.”

With graduation, Sherwayne has also chosen to close another chapter of his life as a student-athlete.

 “My athletic career is done. I will take pride in watching Akeem, Nathon, Natalliah, Raheem, Jonielle and my other pro friends compete,” he said. 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • McLaughlin-Levrone, DuPlantis named World Athletes of Year for 2022 McLaughlin-Levrone, DuPlantis named World Athletes of Year for 2022

    World champions and world record-breakers Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Mondo Duplantis have been named the World Athletes of the Year.

    They were the final winners to be revealed as part of the World Athletics Awards 2022, along with the winners of the Rising Stars awards: Serbian javelin thrower Adriana Vilagos and US sprinter Erriyon Knighton.

    McLaughlin-Levrone and Duplantis – winners of the Rising Stars awards just four years ago – broke the world records in their respective disciplines on more than one occasion this year, with their final record-breaking performances coming at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

    McLaughlin-Levrone improved her own world 400m hurdles record by 0.78, first to 51.41 at the US Championships and then to an awe-inspiring 50.68 at the World Championships. That secured her a first individual senior world title, and she followed it by anchoring the US team to another 4x400m victory.

    The 23-year-old made a statement with her first 400m hurdles race of the year, clocking 51.61 in Nashville in early June. At that point it was the third-fastest time ever recorded, but the all-time list soon underwent further revisions.

    Lining up at the US Championships at Hayward Field, McLaughlin-Levrone stormed to victory in the 400m hurdles in 51.41, taking 0.05 off the mark she set at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

    “I think there’s a little bit more in the tank there,” she said after her US Championships win. “Hopefully when it’s time we can just empty it completely.”

    Back at Hayward Field a month later, McLaughlin-Levrone obliterated her previous best, running 50.68 as the home crowd and the rest of the world watched on in amazement.

    "All of my goals were accomplished this year," said McLaughlin-Levrone. "We were able to accomplish everything we set out to do. It couldn’t have been any better, and I was so grateful that I was able to produce that performance in front of a home crowd."

    Just when you think Duplantis could not be more dominant, the Swedish pole vaulter has a season like 2022, during which he set three world records, won two global titles, won 18 of his 19 competitions, and vaulted six metres or higher 23 times.

    Duplantis, despite only just turning 23, now has more six-metre clearances than any other pole vaulter in history.

    His record-breaking 2022 campaign began with an undefeated indoor season, during which he set a world record of 6.19m in Belgrade. He returned to the Serbian capital two weeks later for the World Athletics Indoor Championships, where he struck gold with 6.20m, another improvement on his own world record.

    He was then victorious on the Wanda Diamond League circuit, including a 6.16m vault in Stockholm, the highest ever outdoor vault in history. It was the perfect warm-up for the World Championships three weeks later.

    As the last athlete competing on the final day of competition at the World Championships in Oregon, Duplantis soared over a world record of 6.21m with room to spare.

    Less than a month later, he retained his European title with a championship record of 6.06m in a competition where he registered no misses. He then wrapped up his season with a victory at the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich.

    "Going into the year, I had really high expectations of myself and I had some really big goals," said Duplantis. "I wanted to win the world indoors, the world outdoors, the Europeans, the Diamond League final, and I wanted to break the world record a few times.

    "I was able to do that and it was a bonus, the cherry on top, to do be able to do it (break the world record) at the right times, to do it at world indoors and do it at world outdoors. I can’t complain."

    Vilagos and Knighton named Rising Stars of 2022

    It was a season of back-to-back successes for this year’s Rising Stars.

    Vilagos successfully defended her world U20 javelin title, doing so with a championship record of 63.52m and breaking the European U20 record in the process. Less than three months later, she claimed silver at the senior European Championships in Munich.

    “Defending my world U20 title in Colombia was my main goal, but winning a medal at the European Championships was the biggest surprise,” said Vilagos. “It was a good year and this award crowns it.”

    Knighton, meanwhile, has been named Rising Star for the second year in a row. He clocked a lifetime best of 19.49 in April which couldn’t be ratified as a world U20 record, but he went on to break the mark officially at the US Championships, where he ran 19.69. He followed that with a bronze medal at the World Championships in Oregon, then went on to achieve victories on the Continental Tour and Diamond League circuit.

    Remarkably, both Rising Stars will still be U20 athletes for 2023.

    “Winning this award back to back means my talent is getting recognized on a bigger stage,” said Knighton, the first athlete ever to win two Rising Star awards. “I’ve put in the work to achieve this and I’m very grateful.”

     

  • World Relay Championships set to return to Bahamas for 2024 edition World Relay Championships set to return to Bahamas for 2024 edition

    The World Athletics Championships will return to the Bahamas for the fourth time in six years after successfully winning the rights.

    The next edition of the championships is due to be in 2024, and once again the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium has been earmarked as the venue for the team championship.

    The Bahamas hosted the first three editions of the tournament, which took place between 2014-2017.  The event them moved to Yokohoma, Japan in 2019 and then Chorzow, Poland last year.

    With the team’s track record of successfully hosting previous events, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations Sebastian Coe is confident the country will be able to deliver another exciting event.

    “We have had three wonderful editions of the World Athletics Relays in Nassau, which established this event on the global calendar, so we know we are in safe hands for what will be an important Olympic qualifier for all our relay events,” Coe said.

    “We are confident that The Bahamas will offer the best conditions for the athletes and a brilliant atmosphere for both athletes and fans as we mark a key milestone on the road to the Paris Olympic Games.”

    The 2024 World Athletics Relays will serve as the main qualifier for teams participating in the men’s and women’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 and mixed 4 x 400m metre relays for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

  • 2022 World Championship 400m bronze medallist Sada Williams left out of Barbados' Independence Awards 2022 World Championship 400m bronze medallist Sada Williams left out of Barbados' Independence Awards

    2022 World Championship 400m bronze medallist Sada Williams was controversially left out of Barbados’ Independence Awards as the country celebrated their 56th year of independence on Wednesday.

    Barbadian journalist Mike King described the omission of Williams from the list of awardees as “shocking” and “inexcusable” in a Facebook post.

    “To leave World Championship bronze medallist Sada Williams out of the Independence Awards is a national scandal. Members of Cabinet should hold their heads down in shame,” he added.

    Williams enjoyed a career best 2022 season in the one lap event.

    In July, she ran a personal best and national record 49.75 for bronze at the World Championships in Eugene. She followed that up in August by winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 49.90 and silver at the NACAC Championships in Freeport in 49.86.

    In addition to those medals, Williams also enjoyed four top three finishes on the Diamond League circuit last season. She finished third in Monaco and second in Lausanne and Brussels before crossing the line third once again at the Diamond League final in Zurich.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.