Swanson Family to Establish New Merit Scholarship Program

Charleston entrepreneur Steve Swanson ‘89 and his wife, Emily ‘89, announced a $2.25 million gift to support merit scholarships for The Honors College of the College of Charleston.

“I received a full scholarship to the College. So, it seems utterly natural to give back to the school that gave me so much,” Swanson says. “The College of Charleston changed our lives, and Emily and I hope to change the lives of these students through our scholarships.”

Distinguished by extraordinary academic talent, leadership potential, and community service, the inaugural class of Swanson Scholars has an average S.A.T score of 1480 and an overall average weighted GPA of 4.69. The class includes a No. 1 regionally-ranked varsity tennis captain, a member of the Tennessee Governor’s cabinet, a junior board member of the Atlanta Mission, and a member of the nationally–ranked South Carolina Math Team (full student bios attached).

“The Swanson Scholarships will provide a vital recruiting tool for the College to attract the best and brightest students from all over the country,” said President George Benson. “We are extremely grateful to Steve and Emily Swanson for their generosity and leadership. Their investment demonstrates confidence in the direction of our Honors College and our entire university.”

All Swanson Scholars are members of the William Aiken Fellows Society, an elite group of the College’s top scholars. They will participate in a rigorous academic curriculum and a variety of summer enrichment programs, leadership courses,one-on-one faculty mentoring, public service activities in the United States or abroad, as well as research or business internship opportunities across the globe.

Trisha Folds-Bennett, associate dean of The Honors College, says, “Arriving with a foundation to excel, these bright and accomplished students will set the intellectual pace for the campus and energize our culture of inquiry.”

About the Swansons
Steve and Emily Swanson graduated from the College of Charleston in 1989. Steve, a scholarship recipient, was a mathematics major and a graduate of the Honors College, while Emily was a biology major. Emily has had a successful career as an investigator with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2001, Steve became CEO of Automated Trading Desk (ATD), which was acquired by Citigroup Inc. in 2007. Swanson stayed on with Citigroup for many years. He is now focusing on new ventures. Swanson is currently a member of the College of Charleston Foundation Board, a member of the School of Business Board of Governors, and was on the Honors College Steering Committee.

Swanson Scholar Bios

Abigail Asper of Franklin, Tenn., was involved in student government, founded the Poetry Club of Independence, and recently discovered a love for physics and astronomy. Asper will pursue her passion for the stars at the College.

Parks Barroso of Knoxville, Tenn., attended Tennessee Youth in Government for three years as a delegate and served as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. Barroso was editor of the school paper, attended American Legion Boys’ State, is an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a National Merit Semi-Finalist.

Aslan Bishop of Boca Raton, Fla., participated in art and creative study with the National Art Honor Society, interned at the Norton Museum of Art, directed the fashion section of the school newspaper, and is completing a two-year IB Art portfolio. Bishop hopes to pursue art history and historic preservation at the College.

Schylar Brock of Lawrenceville, Ga., has acted in drama productions since the ninth grade and even had the starring role in “Once Upon a Mattress.”  She participated in varsity lacrosse and the National Honor Society and Student Government. Brock also serves on the Junior Board for Atlanta Mission working with men at the homeless rehabilitation center.

Olivia Cohen of Columbus, Ga., enjoys debate and writing, and she has been dancing since she was four year old. She was also a member of National French Honor Society and the National Honor Society. Cohen plans on double majoring in international studies and English at the College.

Patricia Cooney of Huntsville, Ala., has been involved in music and the performing arts, including piano, show choir, choir, musical theater, and song writing. Cooney also enjoys biology, calculus, physics, economics, and literature. Cooney intends to study music and biology with a concentration in neuroscience.

Eileen (Ellie) Flock of Mobile, Ala., has been highly involved in service, leadership, and theatre programs both at UMS-Wright Preparatory School and in the Mobile community. As a member of the Girls’ Interact Club and the SGA VP of Service, Flock participated in and organized many service projects to aid others locally, nationally, and internationally.

Olivia Ghiz of from Medway, Mass., was very active in school community, serving as varsity soccer captain and student body treasurer for her junior and senior years. Ghiz won a silver medal in National Spanish Examinations and a gold and silver medal in National Latin Examinations. She was also a member of the National Honor Society.

Christopher Jackson of Huntersville, N.C., competed in swimming year-round on U.S.S teams, his high school team (where he was team captain), and as a swim instructor. Jackson’s true passions lie with language and travel. He recently traveled to South Korea on a CIEE scholarship and over the past five years has been self-studying Japanese and Turkish.

Malcolm Kates of Beaufort, S.C., competed on the Beaufort High School varsity tennis team for six years, and served as captain for four years while playing in the No. 1 singles and doubles position. Malcolm held leadership positions in National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Rotary Interact, and Student Government. Kates’ primary interests at the College will be medicine/science and international studies.

John Zeringue of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., played saxophone in the S.C. All-State Band and was in National Honor Society, Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta and a member of the South Carolina Math Team. Zeringue hopes to pursue mathematics or computer science at the College.