January 11, 2016

Conversation Over Lunch Inspires BU Giving

Jeff Swoyer '74

Early in his career, a brief conversation that Jeffery Swoyer ’74 had with a vendor in the company cafeteria sparked a lifelong desire to give back to BU. The vendor had been a student-athlete who had lost his scholarship because of an injury and had to drop out of college because he could not afford it. A neighbor heard about the situation and offered to pay for his education with one provision…if the student was ever in a financial position to do so, he would pay it forward. Grateful for the help he received, the vendor eventually paid it forward in a big way – at the time of that conversation with Jeff, he was paying for the education of a fifth student in need.

“That story stuck with me and was something that I hoped I could do some day,” says Jeff. “Some years later, my step-daughter graduated from BU in 2000. My son had entered Bloom, but was unprepared and ultimately dropped out of college. My wife, Linda and I discussed the “Pay-it-Forward” story. I was working for Alcoa at the time, which had a matching grant program. With the money we would have used to pay for my son’s education, along with the Alcoa Foundation match, we established the Jeffery P. and Linda A. Swoyer Scholarship.”

The first in his family to earn a college degree, much of Jeff’s career has been spent in Human Resources. Now President and CEO of J. Swoyer and Associates LLC, Jeff says BU had a tremendous impact on the direction of his life and he is thrilled to be able to give back. Admittedly not the best student in high school, he says that Bloom gave him the chance to succeed. “If not for BloomU, my life would have been totally different.”

At BU, Jeff was a liberal arts major. “While there was no HR curriculum at the time, many of my studies were in the social sciences of psychology and sociology, which gave me a strong foundation of understanding individual and group social behavior.” 

One professor in particular influenced him. “Connie Schick was a psychology professor I had in my sophomore year. Connie was always, and I mean always, doing something.  I asked her why and she said her philosophy was that if she did not fill every available moment, she would not achieve all of which she was capable. It stuck with me and frankly that small encounter virtually changed my life,” says Jeff. “I decided that there was no one in my professional life that was going to outwork me. They may be smarter or better educated but I was damned determined to be a success… and that was probably the best life’s lesson I received from my BloomU experience.” 

While helping others was a life-long goal of Jeff’s, investing in his own education was equally important. “I always regretted not having gone to grad school, so at age 59, I finally earned my MS HRD from Villanova and graduated at the top of my class.”

Establishing the scholarship is Jeff’s opportunity to help students have the same life changing experience he had. “Bloom took a chance on me and the education I received changed the course of my life. I know what the impact can be because I have lived it.  I hope that in some small way I can help others who, like me, needed a chance and a little help.”

To learn more or to make a donation to the Jeffery P. and Linda A. Swoyer Scholarship Fund, click here.

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