Mari A. Swayne seemed destined to become an educator. As a youngster, she had her own chalkboard and “classroom” at home. The daughter of a teacher, Swayne used to tag along when her mother went to work, and she realized what a difference a dedicated teacher can make.
“I saw her change the lives of many students, and I wanted to help students also,” Swayne said.
When it came time to attend college, Swayne also went with family tradition and chose Indiana State. Born in Indianapolis, Swayne said she was familiar with the university, that it was close to home and that she knew her family valued the educations they had received there.
“Our family is ISU blue through and through, as I have many family members who are alumni,” Swayne said. “ISU afforded me many leadership opportunities and exposure to a variety of social, spiritual and professional development that still greatly benefits me today.”
Some of her happiest memories, Swayne said, revolve around her involvement in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
“I am a strong advocate of Greek Life on college campuses,” she said. “Through this experience, I was exposed to many leadership opportunities that allowed me to serve as president of my chapter, Epsilon Xi; be a member of the Greek PAC (NPHC, IFC, NP-HC); be the student representative to the University Speaker Series and be involved in a variety of community service projects.”
Greek life is an important part of the university community, Swayne said. “I’m happy to hear that many of the chapters are working their way back on campus,” she said. “I look forward to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority returning in the very near future. It definitely made a large impact on who I am today.”
While at Indiana State, Swayne also was a resident assistant and later a graduate assistant hall director. “That afforded me the opportunity to get involved in higher education administration,” she said.
It was at Indiana State that Swayne first became acquainted with the man who would later become her husband, Romel A. Swayne. “We met at ISU many years ago and got re-acquainted during a homecoming weekend,” she said. “We went on a date the Wednesday after homecoming and have been together ever since — almost 10 years.”
Both husband and wife are two-time degree alumni of Indiana State. Mari Swayne earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business education and her Master of Science degree in student affairs and higher education. Romel Swayne graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and a Master of Science degree in human resources. The couple lives in Indianapolis.
“I am proud to be a double alumnus (double Sycamore) of Indiana State University. Working in a high school affords me the opportunity to brag about ISU and encourage students to attend,” Swayne said. “I hope to return to begin my doctoral degree in the future — triple Sycamore. Go Sycamores!”
After college, Swayne worked at Connersville High School and also worked in higher education at Miami University of Ohio and Indiana State. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at IUPUI and Ivy Tech Community College. Fifteen years ago, Swayne began working for the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township where she was a teacher, dean of students and assistant principal prior to being selected as the Director of the Pike Career & STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Center in 2015.
“I was a technology teacher for many years, so the “T” in STEM is something I’ve been involved with for many years including serving as the director the Business & Information Technology Career Academy for Pike High School,” Swayne said. “The Career Center was the vision of our superintendent. I was appointed to work on developing the programs and visiting other centers in preparation of ours opening. We launched the program in August of 2015, and I was appointed as the director.”
In addition, Swayne is very active in other organizations and boards. She currently serves on the Bayh College of Education Dean’s Advisory Council, is vice-president of the Christamore House Board of Directors; is president of Alpha Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Director of Education for the Coalition of 100 Black Women, Indianapolis; is a member of the Indiana Association of Career & Technical Education Directors; and is a 2015 graduate/alumni of the prestigious Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series sponsored by Leadership Indianapolis.
As the newest Career Center in Indiana, the Pike Township program is important because it equips students with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to attain certifications and training in preparation for high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers, Swayne said.
“Students also have the opportunity to receive dual credit from colleges and universities through a curriculum that integrates academics and career and technical education. Students need to be prepared for the ever-changing world of work, which means not only college readiness, but career readiness,” Swayne said. “We give students access to post-secondary education and skills attainment possibilities that will prepare them to achieve in the 21st century.”