Sarah Swain

Why We Give

Before coming to Campbell University in 2013, Assistant Vice President of Alumni Engagement Sarah Swain (’05) was an income development officer for the American Cancer Society. The work was not only rewarding, Swain felt like she was making a difference for her fellow man. Every day, the goal was to find a cure for cancer.

She’s clear about this — her work at Campbell over the last nine years has been incredibly rewarding. But something was missing. “Campbell makes an impact on so many people, but looking at myself … I didn’t feel like I was making an impact. And I missed that.”

When Vice President for Advancement Britt Davis approached Swain about helping secure funding for the North Carolina Higher Education in Prisons Program — which for the past nearly three years has guided its first cohort of 11 students at Sampson County Correctional Institute in Clinton to a two-year associate’s degree and the halfway mark of a four-year bachelor’s program — she jumped at the chance.

On Aug. 31 of last year, Swain visited Sampson Correctional for the first time to attend the commencement ceremony for the program’s first graduating class. She says she was nervous that day — she’d worked hard to help make it happen, but she didn’t know how she would connect with the men.

“My prayer going in was to see them through a lens of grace and respect their efforts and their diligence. And it turned out to be just a really happy day for everybody. It really was.”

Swain had been to dozens of graduation ceremonies before this one. And one of the most rewarding parts of her job is being there to welcome new graduates into the alumni community. On Aug. 31, Swain realized she was doing the same thing for the 11 men looking to change their lives for the better— she was welcoming them as Campbell University alumni.

“Graduation is a celebration of the work that got you to that point, setting you up for success for the future. And what that future brings is up to you. We’re propelling you to go forward and conquer.”

Next: Why We Give | Nolan Perry