The Montclair State University community continues to mourn with the family of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a graduate of the university and native of Newark, N.J., who was a victim of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston, S.C. this past June. One of the nine individuals shot and killed that night, Coleman-Singleton was not only an Assistant Pastor at the church, but also a speech-language pathologist and girls’ track and field coach at Goose Creek High School in Charleston as well as a mother of three children.
Jimmy Huskey, Principal of Goose Greek, called Coleman-Singleton a “true professional,” praising her dedication and hard work in his statement to USA Today. “She cared about her students and was an advocate for them, always willing to listen to and talk with them. She was always there with a smile and ready to help.
Mrs. Singleton will be deeply missed by the ‘Gator Nation’ and we can never replace her as a member of our team.” Huskey continued, “As the head girls’ track coach, she was dedicated to her athletes and worked countless hours to help them obtain their team and individual goals.”
Coleman-Singleton graduated from Vailsburg High School in Newark, N.J. in 1987. She then continued her education at Montclair State University and graduated having obtained her Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 1993. She also attended Nova Southeastern University and South Carolina State University and eventually made her home in the Charleston suburb of Summerville with her three children, Caleb, Chris and Camryn.
In response to the terrible tragedy in South Carolina on Wednesday June 7, President Susan Cole wrote a letter to Coleman-Singleton’s family expressing her condolences on behalf of the entire university community. Cole also sent out a statement to the campus community, in which she shared with the students, “When such things happen, we have a tendency to call them senseless, because they appear so devoid of any purpose or rational meaning. However, we should not accept, because they are senseless, that they are also without cause. I have to think, as I know many of you do, that if, as a society, we better educated and cared for and were more attentive to the needs of our children, if we were better at creating a culture of respect and understanding for our common humanity, such awful events would be less likely to occur. We cannot make all the senseless pain and tragedy disappear from the world, but we have a responsibility to keep working at the educational, health, economic and social circumstances that support the development of more people like Sharonda and fewer people like the young man who so senselessly shot her down.”
The university community continues to stand with the family of Coleman-Singleton and the families of the eight other victims of the Charleston shooting. Their lives were taken without cause, but their legacy will always remain.