Jamaican Sherwayne Allen, 24, is the only Black graduate in Auburn University’s Class of 2021 to receive a degree in Pure Mathematics. He is also the first member of his immediate family to complete a university education. Allen now plans to pursue a master’s degree in Data Sciences.
The former Kingston College (KC) athlete represented the school in the 800-meter and 400-meter hurdles from 2012 to 2016. He made the decision to quit track and field athletics in his final year of school, prompted to do so in part by an injury suffered in his last competitive season. Allen achieved a personal best time of 51.97 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles and finished fourth in his final run with 55.52 seconds. His athletic performance led to a scholarship to Auburn University in Alabama, where he associated with Jonielle Smith and Natalliah Whyte, World Championships gold medalists, and developed a friendship with Nathon Allen, NCAA 400-meter medalist and World Championship finalist.
Leaving his home in Jamaica to attend Auburn represented a challenge for Allen, who was born an only child to Wayne and Sherrell Allen in Richmond Park, Jamaica. He remembers his father working at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company in Spanish Town and then being laid off. His mother pursued a fashion designing degree at Garmex in Kingston. When his parents separated, he moved at the age of six to Spanish Town with his mother in pursuit of a better life. While living in Spanish Town, Allen discovered his interest in engineering, designing traps to catch rodents in his backyard. His liking for sports arose while he attended Angels Primary School, but it was when he became a student at Kingston College that he discovered his talent for track and field.
Allen said that attending KC was one of the best decisions in his life as the “all-roundedness” of the school exposed him to the different lifestyles of his fellow students who came from all parts of Jamaica. His friendship with star athlete Akeem Bloomfield at KC also had a big impact on his life’s journey. Bloomfield was instrumental in Allen’s decision to attend Auburn, where their friendship grew even stronger.
Allen said that “doing pure maths was extremely time-consuming” and “brain-draining” but that he also found it interesting and rewarding at the same time. Allen added that he was very happy to have “endured to the end,” saying that the feeling of attaining the degree made everything worthwhile, and while his athletic career is over, Allen said he will take pride “in watching Akeem, Nathon, Natalliah, Raheem, Jonielle and my other pro friends compete.”
Photo Courtesy Sherwayne Allen