Multitasking Marcus Swanson
A day in the life of a corporate executive might seem almost leisurely compared to a day in biology major Marcus Swanson’s life. Although a broken collarbone in his senior year of high school forced him to quit the football team, no one can accuse this dynamic Stillman College sophomore of pining on the sidelines. His myriad responsibilities keep him in such perpetual motion that his impact has been felt throughout the campus. He currently serves as President of the Harte Honors College, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Stillman’s SGA (Student Government Association), Treasurer of the Pre-Alumni Council, and Secretary of the Pre-Law Association. He is also an active member of the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) team, and the Christian Student Association. Recently, when a classmate informed him that she planned to follow in his footsteps and “become involved in many different organizations,” his advice was, “Don’t do it—unless you do it for the right reasons.”
According to Marcus, commitment to service should transcend the desire “to have an impressive resume.” Although it is possible to serve without caring, he believes that people serve better when they care. One of the issues he is particularly concerned about is helping students to excel academically by making sure that they take advantage of the Harte Honors College tutoring program. Some of the brightest students on campus serve as tutors in the program, and Marcus applauds them for their dedication. “It is hard to tell a graduating senior, ‘I know you’re about to graduate and you are extremely busy, but I need you to tutor someone who might not be as competent as you in a certain area,’” Marcus says. “I give the tutors all the credit. I appreciate their time and dedication to serving.”
Marcus admits that, when he was younger, he didn’t always understand why some students struggled academically. “I used to think, ‘If this is easy for me, why isn’t it easy for you?’ I was judgmental. But after becoming a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters during my sophomore year of high school, I realized that people often have a lot of things going on in their lives. Sometimes they have family issues or other problems that make it difficult to focus in school. ”
When Marcus learned to replace judgment with compassion, he saw results. “The kid I mentored started opening up, and his grades began to improve. I thought, ‘If I made an impact on his life, who else could I affect?’ From that point on, I started doing more and more volunteer work.”
When he broke his collar bone, Marcus leaned on Jeremiah 29:11, a Bible verse that states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” While he initially saw the verse as a confirmation that he would be healed and return to the football field, he discovered that God had a different plan. “Because of the injury, I had so much more free time. I had more time to spend with the kid I mentored. I had more time to serve and be a leader.”
On a small college campus, Marcus believes it is easy to label student leaders and other high-achievers as “unapproachable,” and assume that they are somehow in a different category than ‘regular’ students. Marcus fears that this assumption may prevent people from seeking the help they need. But he thinks that students might be more inclined to accept help if they realized that everyone needs assistance at some point. Marcus often reflects on a time in his life when he really needed guidance. As the oldest child in his family, he didn’t have a big brother to guide and encourage him. Fortunately, a family friend became his mentor.
“He taught me to ask myself the question, ‘When you leave this world, what will people say that you did to impact others?’ He kept me out of a lot of trouble, and drilled into my head the importance of helping others. He was like a big brother to me,” Marcus says of the friend, who passed away a few years ago.
Marcus urges students who need academic assistance to get tutoring. “At the end of the day, it’s all about helping you improve your grades,” he states. “We’re here to help you. Not to make you feel that we’re smarter than you. Our goal is to help you learn the material.”
For those who desire tips on multitasking, Marcus says, “I give it up to God. I don’t know how I manage to do all of this. I am definitely learning time management, and how to work with others and become increasingly service-minded. I really want to serve the students, and that’s what keeps me pushing forward—knowing that I can help others.”
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