Friend and Guru Jhade Jordan ’21 pays tribute to her mentor Susan Swazy '90.
Last year when the Office of Inclusion and Engagement kick-started the African-American/Black Alumni Mentoring Program, I decided to sign up because I wanted to learn more about post-grad life for black alumni. I am also trying to figure out how to make the transition from college to professional life, so I thought a mentor could help guide me.
My friend, Sasha Edwards ’20, and I were paired with Susan Swayze ’90, associate professor, educational research, The George Washington University.
One of the first things she did was send us a care package at the start of the school year, and its intricate wrapping and thoughtful contents quite impressed us. It contained many school supplies — pens, paper, highlighters, binder clips, folders. This was great for me because I sometimes procrastinate getting my supplies, so her timing was perfect. I don’t know how she knew I needed it, but she did. We often talk on the phone or FaceTime, and our conversations mostly center around classes and campus life. It’s a little mental health check, and I really appreciate it. Even though I have a faculty advisor and there are resources on campus for all sorts of issues, this is less formal and more easygoing.
Last March, she attended Black Alumni Weekend. I believe it’s the second time she’s been back since her graduation. It was great to walk around with her and hear how different the campus is compared to when she was a student. She commented on how shocking and amazing it was to see the growth of diversity, including people of color and women.
Although Susan and I are a generation apart, we have a lot of similarities. Hearing her stories about being a black college student, especially in one of the early classes of admitted women, makes me feel more self-assured about being here. I was inspired by her life story after W&L, as she was able to travel, attend grad school, start a family and establish a successful professional career.
Susan told me, “Things don’t always happen as you want them to; you have to go with the flow.” She has encouraged me to ask in-depth questions of myself, such as what do I want from my college experience and from life? My anxiety for the future is slowly, but surely, turning into excitement, and I cannot wait to go and make my impact on the world. Then, I hope I can share my experiences and inspire my own W&L mentee years from now.
Jhade Jordan ’21 is a history major and Africana Studies minor from Durant, Mississippi. After graduation, she intends to work in occupational therapy.
Learn more about the African-American/Black Mentoring Program at go.wlu.edu/oie-mentoring.