Track twins join ranks of the few black student athletes to graduate from UT electrical engineering

Katie Balevic and Maria Mendez

With graduation around the corner, Charles Anumnu tweeted that he and his twin brother, Carlton Anumnu, would be the first black student athletes to graduate from UT’s electrical engineering department.

Within the day, Charles’ phone blew up with over 10 thousand retweets and 32 thousand likes last Thursday.

The Anumnu twins, who are on UT’s track team, said they first learned about this achievement in 2016 from Jim Shelton, their Texas Athletics academic advisor.

“It was kind of amazing to think that nobody else like you really did this,” Carlton said.

But as one Twitter user pointed out, the Anumnu twins are not UT’s first black student athletes to graduate with electrical engineering degrees. Lamont Hill was a 1996 electrical engineering graduate and played for UT’s basketball team. 

“(Hill) definitely was a major in engineering, and he did play basketball,” Charles said.

Shelton could not be reached for comment. Charles said he thinks Hill may not have been considered a student athlete because he was not originally admitted to UT with an athletic scholarship. Scott McConnell, assistant athletics director for media relations, said Texas Athletics defines a student athlete as any student on an official UT sports roster.

Texas Athletics could not verify the identity of the first black student athlete to complete an electrical engineering degree, McConnell said.

Charles and Carlton interned at the electric delivery company Oncor, where Hill is now director of information technology. Hill said he did not know who the first black student athlete graduate in electrical engineering at UT is either, but he said the Anumnu twins still deserve recognition.

“I admire them both because they’re very bright young men,” Hill said. “The lessons and dedication they take to the track definitely translate to the classroom.”

From Stafford, Texas, the Anumnu twins have been track stars since they were in high school. The twins originally wanted to just study engineering at UT, but when Texas Athletics recruited them for a sports scholarship, they decided to run track as well, Charles said.

“The main concern was the normal stress of being an engineering major and also being an athlete,” Carlton said. “You’re already in a hard major, but with traveling, you’re missing classes, (and) you can’t go to office hours or TA office hours.”

Because of scheduling conflicts with his classes, Hill stopped playing basketball during his junior year. He said the dedication it takes to study electrical engineering and participate in sports may be the reason there have been few black student athletes to finish the program.

“If you get into collegiate athletics, you’re pretty serious about competing,” Hill said. “Unless you really have people around you to give you guidance then, there may be a tendency to just focus on doing what you can in the class but not really push yourself.”

But the Anumnu twins have excelled both on the track field and in the engineering industry. In June, Carlton and Charles broke UT records for the 4 by 100 meter relay. This month, they are graduating and have jobs lined up at Chevron and Valero, respectively.

Charles attributes their success to the support of UT’s professors, mentors in Texas Athletics and his family. The twins were surprised by the number of people applauding them on Twitter. 

“Me and my brother are just here to show you that you can do it too,” Charles said.