Claire Swartzlander: 2020 David Livingston White Award Recipient

Rebekah Sieker, Executive Assistant

Each year, the SALT Center recognizes one graduating senior who has exhibited great perseverance and determination with the David Livingston White Class Ring Award. Our 2020 award recipient is Claire Swartzlander who graduated in May after earning a degree in just 3 years, a goal she set for herself at the start of college. From the onset, Claire knew that reaching this goal would be challenging, but never imagined the many obstacles that would arise along the way.

While at Arizona, Claire’s studies were repeatedly interrupted by a series of surgeries to address old sports injuries followed by ongoing physical therapy and follow-up appointments. These events often required her to leave school and travel back home for long periods of time. After one procedure, she was bedridden for 3 months and had to do all her studies and an internship entirely online, preCOVID-19!

When asked what receiving the class ring symbolized to her, Claire responded,

“My hard work and the strength it took to buckle down in school. I have never been a huge fan of school, in general, and school was always a bit challenging. I did not always do the best, especially with a learning disability, and being able to graduate in 3 years, despite having to work internships, part-time jobs, and all while undergoing multiple surgeries and going to all those medical appointments… It really symbolizes my journey.”

Claire credits her time at the SALT Center and her involvement with Emily Pendleton, her Student Support Specialist, as being a key to her success. Emily provided Claire with valuable encouragement and help to plan out her assignments, stay organized, and find unique workarounds to accomplish all she wanted to each semester. The weekly meetings with Emily provided Claire the tools and structure to keep up with a busy schedule and maintain her grades.

Claire’s advice for students who learn differently is to recognize that even though you have an issue or a hardship, it does not define you. You are way more than how you learn and how your brain works. Use it to your advantage as you keep pursuing your dreams. Do not compare yourself to other people or their experiences because everyone’s college experience is going to be different.

Knowing she was getting an education to do something she really loved and was passionate about kept her going through all the different trials.

Since graduating, Claire has been putting her degree in Information Science and e-Society to work as an associate producer on the HGTV show, House Hunters where her determination and passion for marketing and media are serving her well. Congratulations, Claire!

Claire Swartzlander

Photo courtesy of Liv Lawler