“The students refer to me as their campus mom,” said Carol Swaim, the administrative assistant for the agricultural education and leadership program. “My door is always open so they can feel comfortable to talk.”
Swaim has been a University of Missouri employee for nearly 25 years. She started on campus as the chief clerk at the orthopedic clinic and physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic. She left for a private office, but came back to MU as an administrative assistant for the college of education.
Swaim never imagined herself having a career in agriculture. But, when a job opportunity with the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources opened in 2005, she was willing to take on the new adventure. Thirteen years later, Swaim could not be happier with her position.
“I really truly love my job and cannot imagine doing anything else until I retire, where I hope to spend more time with my grandkids,” Swaim said.
Although Swaim is happy with her job, it is apparent that faculty and staff are even happier about having her in the AEL program.
“There is no way I could do my job without Carol’s help,” said John Tummons, MU agricultural education and leadership director of undergraduate studies and assistant teaching professor. “Carol always greets students, faculty and guests with a smile.”
It is evident to staff, faculty and students that Swaim shows up every day ready to work, and available to those who need help. She is willing to do anything to make someone else’s day easier.
“She has unmatched institutional knowledge and works hard behind the scenes to make sure I have the rooms, resources and paperwork I need to serve students,” Tummons said.
Swaim recently received the Above and Beyond Award for the third time from the CAFNR Staff Advisory Council. This award is given to one staff member each quarter who has gone the extra mile in collaborating for the greater good.
Not only does Swaim do more than is expected with her daily duties, she is also the supervisor of multiple undergraduates each semester who assist in her office as work study students.
“Carol goes above and beyond in her role as a mentor to the student workers,” said Adam Cletzer, MU agricultural education and leadership director of student services and assistant professor. “She really works to develop their professionalism, self-esteem, and feeling of belonging in the program.”
Swaim makes sure to make a connection with her workers that goes deeper than a normal work relationship. She aims to engage with students on a personal level, often making deep connections that last for years.
“She not only cares about my work ethic, but she also cares for my academic work, me and my family,” said Austin DeHaven, an undergraduate student who has been a worker in Swaim’s office for nearly three years. “I could not have made it to where I am without her.”
Swaim makes it known to all that she wants everyone to feel welcome and as though they can always come to her.
“She truly is an asset to our program and a key part of the agricultural education and leadership family,” said Jon Simonsen, MU agricultural education and leadership department chair, director of graduate studies and professor. “If you were to ask any student or faculty member in the program, they would agree that Carol is part of the Mizzou experience by taking what sometimes can be a very intimidating place and making it welcoming and caring to all.”
If you find yourself in Gentry Hall, make sure to stop into Swaim’s office for a piece of candy and a story, there is no doubt you will leave with a smile on your face.