Huntingdon offered best of both worlds for Swift
This week is NCAA Division III Week and member institutions across the country are celebrating the inaugural event.
Division III Week, which began Monday and runs through Sunday, is intended to recognize the academic and athletic accomplishments as well as the campus leadership and community service efforts of Division III student-athletes.
As part of Huntingdon College's participation in Division III Week, six student-athletes are being featured this week. Huntingdon senior A.J. Swift is today's featured student-athlete.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – When someone asks Huntingdon senior A.J. Swift what he did over the summer, they probably don't get the answer they were expecting.
After all, how many college students can answer that they participated in the Department of Energy Nuclear Chemistry Summer School at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York? Or, that they were an Applied Chemistry Intern for ASRC Aerospace at Kennedy Space Center?
Swift has done both, traveling to New York last summer and Kennedy Space Center during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at Huntingdon.
As he prepares to graduate with Departmental Honors in Chemistry, Swift said he has no regrets about his time at Huntingdon. It was a four-year period that allowed him to focus on pursuing his love of science and his love for football.
"I feel like I have had the best of both worlds at Huntingdon," Swift said. "I've been able to play football, travel and have that camaraderie of being part of a team. At the same time, I've been able to excel in academics and get all of the benefits of an education. Coming to Huntingdon was a great decision for me."
Swift was a four-year player for the Huntingdon football team and part of the winningest class in the program's eight-year history. Being part of those 29 wins, the program's first playoff appearance and the Hawks' first two wins against nationally ranked teams means a lot to Swift.
But his accomplishments in the field of chemistry are equally meaningful. Last summer's experience in New York helped determine where he will attend graduate school.
"It was so much fun and it was eye-opening," Swift said. "There were 24 people chosen nationwide to participate in the program and I was one of 12 chosen for the Brookhaven site. It was six intense weeks. "We went to class in the morning and had a lab or took tours of the facilities in the afternoons. We also had a research topic we had to do and give a 15-minute presentation at the end. That experience helped me determine where I want to go to school next year."
Swift plans to attend UNLV, where he will pursue his PH.D in Radio Chemistry.
"I've been really fortunate to have a great support group between my family, my professors and my coaches," Swift said. "My coaches always challenged me to do the right things and be the best I could be and my professors were there for me whenever I needed help. Dr. Maureen Murphy, Dr. Jeremy Carr, Professor Jaime Demick and Dr. Doba Jackson have meant a lot to me and I wouldn't have gotten as far without them.
"But none of these opportunities would have been possible without the support of my mom (Dori), my dad (Andy), my brother (Jake) and my sister (Lauren). They have supported me all the way and helped me pursue my dreams."
Name: A.J. Swift
Hometown: Cocoa, Fla.
Athletic accomplishments: Swift was a four-year player for the Huntingdon football team and part of the program's winningest class (29-11 in four seasons). During his sophomore season, Huntingdon advanced to the playoffs for the first time. During his senior season, the Hawks won their first two games against nationally ranked competition. Swift was named to the Capital One All District Academic American Team as a senior.
Academic achievements: Swift has been on the Dean's List of High Honors while majoring in chemistry and pursuing a minor in math. During the summer before his senior year, Swift was one of 12 people nationwide chosen to participate in the 2011 Department of Energy Nuclear Chemistry Summer School at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Between his freshman and sophomore years, Swift was an Applied Chemistry Intern for ASRC Aerospace at Kennedy Space Center. In the spring of his junior year, he was invited to present the results of his research at the American Chemical Society Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., and twice invited to the Research & Creative Activity Symposium at Alabama State University. After graduation, he plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Radio Chemistry at UNLV.
Campus Activities: Swift is a member of Alpha Beta and Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. He also serves as a tutor for physics and chemistry.