Class of 2018: Taylor Swan develops Student Affairs experience into career path
As is the case for many Hokies, Taylor Swan has gained a better sense of self and articulated a new vision for her future as a result of her Virginia Tech experience. Over the past four years, she has developed a passion for service and discovered her leadership style through involvement in Student Affairs departments and programs.
Her introduction to Student Affairs came as a first-year orientation leader for New Student Programs in 2016, an experience she says pushed her out of her comfort zone. Her goal that summer was to make students feel comfortable when they came to Virginia Tech and to let them know they had a friend in her.
“I learned so much about the university that I didn’t know before,” Swan said. “I didn’t realize how much it impacted me until I reflected back on it.”
Since summer 2017, Swan has served as the student event coordinator for Family and Alumni Relations under the supervision of Bobbie Webster, associate director of family and alumni relations, who Swan describes as an incredible mentor and great friend.
“I have learned more from her and all of the people in family and alumni relations about my chosen career path than anywhere else in college,” Swan said. “She has pushed me when I most needed it, letting me make decisions and take lead on certain projects, but she has also always been right behind me whether I had questions or needed help.”
Come August, Swan will enroll at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, as one of 15 members of the first-ever cohort to earn a master of arts in higher education. While pursuing her degree, she’ll complete an assistantship in academic advising. Although her work with family and alumni relations and her service as an orientation leader gave her insight into the purpose and impact of student affairs in the context of a university, it was Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo who inspired her career trajectory.
“I was sitting in a training for Hokie Camp, and Dr. Perillo came in and was talking about what she does,” Swan said. “I remember thinking, ‘How did she get there?’ She gets to know so many people on a personal level and make so many people’s days better just because of what she does. I started to research that career path.”
Another passion of Swan’s is language. She believes the ability to communicate with someone in their native tongue affords a deeper understanding of who they are and allows for more personal connections to be made. Learning Italian and American Sign Language are next on her list.
In addition to her work in Student Affairs, Swan is the service officer for Chi Delta Alpha Service Sorority. She feels excited and prepared for what’s to come after graduation, but she admits she’ll miss the genuine friendships she’s made and the sense of community she’s experienced at Virginia Tech.
Swan hails from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and is graduating with a double major in psychology and Spanish from the College of Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, respectively.
Photo by Jud Froelich
Written by Tiffany Woodall