Dr. Sue Swedis has impacted the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of students during her 20 years as an educator and the Director of Health Science at Anna Maria College. Originally starting as an adjunct in 1990, Swedis became full-time in 2001 and was pivotal in the growth of science programs offered at Anna Maria College.
When Swedis first started at Anna Maria College, Biology was one of the only majors offered in that field, but over the years she has seen the college grow to encapsulate many other majors such as environmental science and the development of the nursing program which started out as an associate degree but became a full bachelor’s degree program.
“What I have seen at Anna Maria is just a constant evolution and I think that’s a healthy thing for an institution,” Swedis said.
Swedis reflected on how the health sciences have changed as a whole, particularly with the inclusion of women. When Swedis was an undergraduate student, the field was male-dominated and oftentimes she would be the only woman in the classroom. Anna Maria’s nursing program draws more young women into the sciences. However, Swedis was happy to see that there was an even 50/50 split in between men and women who were full health science majors.
“Nobody should feel isolated in the classroom,” Swedis said about the importance of encouraging different perspectives, “Whether they’re U.S. born, foreign born, new to the sciences, or committed to the sciences, it just should be a real mix for a good learning environment. I think that benefits everybody.”
As she begins her retirement, Swedis will miss her co-workers and the people who have made Anna Maria College her home for over 20 years.
“It’s always a team effort whenever we do anything here, but that’s what I think is one of Anna Maria’s strengths is that we do collaborate and combine visions and get to someplace new,” she said.
During her retirement celebration, members of Anna Maria’s Health Science department presented Swedis with a scholarship fund named in her honor. The Susan R. Swedis Science Scholarship Fund was inspired to help other women, like Swedis, who are passionate and driven in their pursuit of a Health Science education.
Swedis was completely surprised and touched by the gesture made by her peers and the Anna Maria Community who continues to raise funds for the scholarship.
“I had no idea that this scholarship was coming,” Swedis said, “And because I came through an educational system that didn’t foster young women in the sciences at the time, it means even more to me.”
Those interested in contributing to the Susan R. Swedis Science Scholarship Fund can donate here.