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Cynthia Swift

​SCC Instructor Guides Student on Pathway to Engineering Career

Identifying potential in every student and helping to develop untapped strengths is a cornerstone of the Santiago Canyon College (SCC) mission and is based upon the fundamental purpose of fostering student success.

Image of Cynthia SwiftPhysics professor Cynthia Swift does just that. But in physics, Swift rarely comes across a student lacking higher-level math skills such as algebra and calculus. One such student was a high school dropout who had attended two continuation schools----and wanted to major in engineering.

One day the student shared his goals and aspirations with Swift, impressing her with both his enthusiasm and potential. She took the time to work one-on-one with him to map out the math courses required to master the differential concepts and equations of physics. In observing his interactions with fellow students, she guided him towards becoming a supplemental instruction leader that led discussion sessions with demonstrations.

"This student’s leadership skills had the makings of a great project manager because he inspires others and has the ability to quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of a team," said Swift.

All were points included in a strong letter of recommendation Swift drafted for the student towards an internship that he was awarded. This student, now an engineering major at Cal Poly, Pomona, also participated on the SCC Rube Goldberg team in 2016 that took first place in the regional competition. The contest challenges teams of students to build an overly complex contraption designed to accomplish a simple task.

The team advanced to the national contest with the generous support of friends, family, and the community to fund an out-of-state trip. Up against 11 teams from highly ranked universities including Purdue and Penn State, the SCC team proudly snagged some respect and the Rookie Award for their hard work. Assisting her students to reach their full potential is Swift's goal.

"As an instructor, I want to point students in the right direction and encourage them with the power that they have what it takes to succeed."