Diane Swanoski, administrative assistant in Counseling Services. (Cable Photo/Maggie Grob)

Q&A with Diane Swanoski

Alexandrea Jerome

What is your role on campus/title?
I actually work two departments. I’m half time for career services and half time for counseling services and I’m the administrative assistant for both.

How long have you worked on campus?
I have been here about ten years. I worked part of that time down in student health services. I was the receptionist down there for four years, and I’ve been up here in my current position for about six years.

Why did you decide to work here?
It kind of chose me. There was a staff member at CSS who knew of an opening and thought that I might be a good fit for it. Even though I was looking to get a job somewhere, I wasn’t particularly looking at Scholastica. But after it was presented to me and I applied for the position, I’ve been very happy that it chose me. I have worked several places and I find that work at Scholastica is unique with the tie to the monastery, the nuns, and the Benedictine values. And I find that I share the same values. So it’s a good fit.

When you first came here, you were in the health center. So did you know about that job and that’s why you applied here?
Yes and it’s kind of interesting because although I had worked in office positions before, I had never been in a medical situation, so that was very eye opening … I find that the service to the students here is really what is so fabulous. … The staff is so caring and they know exactly how to help college students deal with all that they are experiencing. Students can go to Student Health Services as much as they need, and a lot of over-the-counter things they get for free there. The nurses can do lab work as well as write prescriptions. I’m not sure if students are aware of that.

What do you love most about your job here on campus?
I would say I like the diversity of the things I do here. Part of my role here is to schedule appointments for both career counselors and personal counselors. But I also manage the office, take minutes, go to meetings, and almost everyday I’m still learning new things. … I especially love the contact with the students, and watching them mature and grow in their four years here. They come in as young adults and they leave as adults ready to conquer the world and head out into careers. So much growth occurs in those four years.

What do you do outside of your job for fun?
So I’ve got a fabulous opportunity here to take classes. Since I never completed my college degree when I was younger, I thought I should take advantage of this opportunity and pursue my bachelor’s degree. I have been taking one or two classes a semester for the past several years. I’m approaching 60 years old and not really looking for a new career, this is just a personal goal for me. I’m a humanities major, and get to pick classes that interest me. … Taking classes gives me insight as to what students are experiencing because now with three weeks left in the semester, I’m kind of feeling the stress as well because I’ve got a project to finish, and a couple of papers that are due before the end of the semester. But when I’m not doing school work, I love to go walking, and in the winter cross country skiing. … And you could ask anyone around here who knows me, my number one favorite thing to do is travel. Now that my three children are all grown, married, and done with school, my husband and I have more time and money to travel. We have this Bucket List and we’re checking things off.

Diane has/will be visiting:
Inca trail to Machu Picchu
Egypt and the tombs
Upcoming Ireland and the Italian Dolomites
Upcoming cruise

That’s my absolute favorite … to experience the world and actually be there, and then you see things from a different perspective. You bring back these memories and when you hear something about a certain area you can relate to it and realize how it affects the people. Or to see some Renaissance artwork in Italy, like the Mona Lisa, and see it is actually a very small painting, is only about a foot high — you wouldn’t know that unless you saw it. To me, travel also brings history to life. We were in Italy and went to Pompeii, and Akrotiri in Greece, both very ancient sites dating back to before A.D. and they had paintings on the walls and mosaic tiles.They were very advanced civilizations way back then. There’s not enough time or money to do and see as much as I would like to. But yeah, that’s my absolute favorite.

I heard you were in a band, can you tell me about that?

I met my husband at this accordion school where we both took lessons (since we were in grade school). We’ve got good friends who met this same way, which is kind of an obscure thing, but we have a little band with them that plays variety dance music. I’ve switched to keyboard and my husband to guitar, since we don’t need four accordion players, and also have two saxophone players, my husband’s brother is drummer, and we also have a bass player. The band is called the “Ken Sievers Family and Friends Band” and we play once a month at the Cotton Civic Center and wherever else people will have us. When we’re not playing out, we get together to practice just because we have fun doing it, it’s a great pastime.

What would be your advice to students as they work through finals week?
It is so easy to get very overwhelmed and when you do it’s hard to make any progress at all. But if you set little goals and everyday do something, you hopefully won’t get to that point. I think that staying on top of things, organized, and prioritizing things is most important. And just know that although these three weeks are crazy, you just have to make it through them and then there is a break. Try to stay healthy, too, because if you get sick everything is just harder and keep sleep as a priority. Even though you think, “well it’s midnight, I can work for a couple more hours,” but really you’re not getting quality things done. It’d just be better to be rested up and maybe get up early and do it. So, take care of yourself. but also prioritize, so everything doesn’t become overwhelming.