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Meet the Swansons:

Honors College Alumni Dedicate Endowment to Support Summer Programs

By: Brandi Stover   

Honors College alumni Kim and Judith Swanson met at Michigan State University in the summer of 1963, where both were participating in the summer orientation program. Jude, an advertising major in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and Kim, a political science major in the College of Social Science, formed a friendship that evolved into a marriage that has lasted over 55 years and is still going strong. 

A black-and-white photo of a man and a woman in formal attire. The man as a skinny black tie, glasses, and suit. The woman is in a lighter sleeveless dress.
Jude (left) and Kim (right) dressed to impress in 1967

Both Kim and Jude credit on-campus employment opportunities for much of their growth during their time in East Lansing. “Our on-the-job education was just as valuable as our formal class work and helped both of us to mature and become ready for life after MSU,” Kim said in a recent interview with MSU Libraries, “which is why we want to make sure today’s students have that same opportunity while earning some money to help finance their education.”  

Kim was a Resident Assistant in East Shaw Hall and during his senior year was an undergraduate assistant in the American Thought and Language Department, while Jude worked for the MSU Libraries, as did many of her Alpha Delta Pi sorority sisters. Since graduating, both have become attorneys and dedicated themselves to public service and giving back to their communities.

Supporting the Honors Community 

The Swansons recently created the “Swanson’s Honors College Summer Programs Fund”. This endowment will support summer programs offered and/or sponsored by the Honors College, with emphasis on supporting the payroll costs of students employed within these summer opportunities.   

Kathryn Reed, Assistant Director of Development for the Honors College, worked closely with the Swansons as they looked to give back to the community that impacted them so deeply throughout their undergraduate experiences.   

“To have alumni believe in the power of summer programs and to help ensure that the Honors College has the resources to give our students on-the-job experience and helping build community within those positions for generations to come is huge,” Reed said. “It will be exciting to see in 10-20 years how empowering the endowment is and the legacy the Swansons established as alumni of the university and the Honors College.”  

“Initially, we started giving because we wanted to have money available for people like Jude when she was in school,” Kim said in a separate interview. “Jude ended up working summers at the library through a student program, and we wanted to make sure that program was available to students in the future.”     

In addition to creating an endowment, the Swansons made a gift for the summer of 2023 to support the summer salaries of the Undergraduate Learning Assistants in the Accelerating Connections and Excellence Program and the mentors at HC IMPACT.

A group of smiling students in grey and forest green HC IMPACT shirts stand on the lawn to take a group selfie
Honors College student Eli Flikkema holds up his phone for a selfie with his fellow HC IMPACT mentors.

Eli Flikkema, an Urban and Regional Planning major in the College of Social Science, was a mentor for the HC IMPACT program last summer. “It is truly amazing that alumni recognize how much potential the IMPACT program and others like it have to be positive forces both for incoming students and for the greater Lansing community,” Flikkema said.

“MSU is such an important partner to the City of East Lansing and to these regional nonprofits,” he said, “and it is awesome to know that people who have left the community still recognize the power of that partnership.”  

Leaving a Legacy  

Through their generosity to the Honors College, the Swansons are bolstering programs that create a lasting impact on students’ educational journeys. Their influence will be felt for generations to come. It is through the benevolence of the alumni that the mission of the Honors College to support high-achieving students advances.   

“The ability to leave a legacy and the ability to move programs forward that you benefitted from is a really special thing to be able to do,” Reed said. “Any level of involvement or giving back is a vote of confidence in the programs we have here.”  

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