Heeding the Call
Selfless servant Daniel Singletary ’19 uses insurance policy to fund future scholarships.
By Dorian Martin ’06
Daniel Singletary’s decision to fund future student scholarships through a planned gift crystalized during the 2021 football season when he was charging his mobility scooter in The Association of Former Students’ main hall. “This couple with kids came up right next to me and searched the wall. They said, ‘Don’t mind us, we’re looking for a name,’” Singletary recalled. “Then they said, ‘Oh, there’s Great-Great Grandpa!’ That moment was really cool for those parents to be able to share with their children the story of their relative who gave back to the university. The idea of giving back all became clear to me at that moment: A gift for Texas A&M University is going to help students for generations to come.”
Beyond planning his gift, the 39-year-old Class of 2019 Masters of Educational Technology graduate had already committed to a life of service. After complications from spinal surgery upended his dreams of serving in the military after high school, Singletary continued to focus on helping others. During the past two decades, he has supported first responders, provided tech support for Apple customers, developed some of Texas A&M’s foundational web platforms and now shares his technology expertise at the Texas A&M Foundation.
Each of those experiences guided Singletary’s planned gift through the Texas A&M Foundation. His secondary $100,000 life insurance policy will eventually create four $25,000 scholarships: a Sul Ross Scholarship for the Corps of Cadets; an Aggie Veteran Honor Scholarship; and two graduate scholarships for students enrolled in the College of Education and Human Development’s Educational Psychology program.
His first brush with Texas A&M occurred when an elementary classmate demanded to know whether Singletary, a first-grader, considered himself an Aggie or a Longhorn. “I don’t know what you mean,” Singletary remembered responding. “He decided right then and there that I was an Aggie, so I embraced the concept.”
Later, while he had friends whose families invited him to attend Texas A&M’s football games, the opportunity never surfaced due to the demands of participating in Tomball High School’s marching band and Navy JROTC programs. He did, however, witness the Aggie influence reflected in the school’s culture when the band would march in a block “T” formation at the end of home football halftime performances..
Yet his path to earning an Aggie Ring had some unexpected twists and turns. As a high school sophomore, Singletary had the surgery that would limit his physical mobility, but this turn of events also put his passion for technology front and center in his life.
During the Summer of 2001, Singletary began volunteering with the Cypress Creek Fire Department where he programmed the department’s communications gear. He also enrolled in Tomball Community College and began taking telecommunications classes, though his initial academic pursuit would not last long.
A few months later while sitting in a college algebra class, the events of September 11, 2001 started to unfold. Quickly responding, Singletary and fellow firefighters reported to Cypress Creek Fire Station 21 in time to witness the second tower of the World Trade Center collapse. At that moment, knowing most of his friends he met through JROTC years earlier were most likely headed to war, he searched for an opportunity to serve beyond simply programming fire radios and pagers.
Singletary decided to pursue an Emergency Medical Technician basic certification, which upon completion qualified him to be a full-time fire & EMS dispatcher for Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services in North Harris County, Texas. Eventually, he accepted a full-time dispatch position at the Village Fire Department, where he remained for a decade.
From Tech Support to Trainer
Observing the growing career opportunities in technology, the first-generation college student enrolled in Liberty University’s online program in 2012. He earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology with a minor in game design in 2017.
Midway into his college studies, Singletary was hired for a tech support job at Apple and relocated to the company’s corporate office in Austin, Texas. “Working on the degree in information technology gave me the courage to apply to Apple and the drive to want to work for a Silicon Valley-based company,” he said.
He was quickly promoted, reaching senior tech support advisor for Mac and iOS. “At Apple, I was mesmerized by how they trained people,” he said. “I didn’t know what the theories were or what the science was; I just knew there were ways that I could motivate people to learn technological concepts.”
Within a few years, Singletary wanted to better understand the theory and science of training and decided to pursue a graduate degree. He found the perfect fit—and a chance to earn his Aggie Ring—through the online educational technology master’s program offered by Texas A&M’s College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Educational Psychology.
He left his job at Apple and moved to College Station for the full college experience. He found a graduate student assistant position with the Department of Information Technology in Texas A&M’s Division of Student Affairs. One of his assignments was working on the team that created the Aggie Veteran Network for the then-nascent Don and Ellie Knauss Veterans Resource & Support Center (VRSC). “Daniel was instrumental in exponentially expanding the VRSC’s ability to connect our Aggie student veterans with each other, local resources and high-impact opportunities to facilitate their success,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Gerald L. Smith ’82, who serves as VRSC director. “He helped Texas A&M create a new best practice to truly serve well those who have served!”
After completing his master’s degree, Singletary worked as Mays Business School’s digital systems architect before joining the Texas A&M Foundation as their technical trainer. Today, he is furthering his understanding of technology and learning theory through Boise State University’s Educational Technology doctoral program. “I’m able to use my degrees from Texas A&M, Liberty and now Boise State to support my current career of training others,” he said. “I plan to stay at the Foundation, investing my knowledge and learning back into the organization and its people.”
Easing the Burden
Looking back at his progression through higher education, Singletary noted that he never had the financial resources to focus his complete attention on school. “I always had to work, so that was part of the reason that I’ve planned to give to others in the way that I have,” he said. “That’s also why I want to support first-generation students. I know what they are going through, especially those who are working their way through college by waitressing, working at the car wash or doing whatever they can to pay for their education.”
The former student is one of a growing number of recent graduates making a gift through the Texas A&M Foundation to financially support future generations of Aggies as they earn their degrees. “Donors are the lifeblood of our scholarship program, and their generosity can change the path of students’ lives,” said retired Army Sgt. Maj. Donald Freeman, who serves as VRSC assistant director. “Daniel understood that early on and wanted to provide as much impact as he could possibly provide. This is a nod to our Aggie core values and reminds us that it’s never too early to serve others.”
If you are ready to make a commitment to serve future Aggies with the gift of education, contact David Wilkinson '87, assistant vice president for development, Division of Student Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.