SGA President Gives Back in Many Ways

Posted on 12/19/2016 2:08:11 PM

Brian Swatt Brian Swatt has received a lot from IUP. So he’s making sure he gives something back.

As the president of the Student Government Association at IUP, Swatt helps represent the student voice of the university in all kinds of ways, and it’s a job that keeps him quite busy. But that’s the way Swatt likes things — it’s a habit he developed long before he set foot on campus.

“I grew up in a household where I was taught that you get out of life what you give,” Swatt said. “My dad was a self-employed contractor, and my mom was a cashier at a grocery store. They taught me what it means to earn a dollar, but they also taught me that you can get all you want, but what’s important is what you give back.”

Getting Involved

Swatt said he chose IUP because he wanted to go to a college that had a lot of opportunities for involvement outside the classroom. When he was in high school, he became a part of student government, and he enjoyed that experience so much that he joined IUP’s SGA during his first semester on campus.

“I had to find my way,” he said. “You can’t just walk on to campus and immediately find your niche. You have to put yourself out there and network. I met a few SGA members and got involved. I had this vision of SGA. I saw its potential, and I saw what it could be.”

Elected president by the student body in May 2016, Swatt, a political science major from Jermyn (Lackawanna County) has worked on several projects to help the entire university community. He’s dealt with everything from parking spaces to school spirit and many in between. He’s worked on diversity and inclusion projects and has helped boost the SGA’s presence on campus.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “it’s about advocacy.”

He said it also had helped make him a more-rounded student.

“A lot of what I have learned is invaluable compared to what I could have learned just in the classroom,” he said. “I’ve learned about organizational skills, and you don’t get that a lot in the classroom. It a good combination of the two things.”

Leaving a Legacy

One project that Swatt has spent a lot of time on lately is one that could pay dividends for decades to come: he wants to put a Crimson Hawk statue on campus to be a landmark for visitors and potential students. A lot of other colleges have a location or statue that is immediately recognizable in photos, but IUP has few places like that.

That’s why Swatt wants to get the project rolling before he graduates.

“It’s a sense of pride for me,” he said. “A lot of people talk about the ‘IUP way,’ but this is something that’s tangible. It means a lot to everyone. It’s all about the symbolism behind it.”

The way Swatt sees it, getting a statue in place is just another way for him to give back to the university that has given him so much.

“How can I leave a legacy on campus? I feel like I can bring something to the table and leave something behind,” he said. “When I come back here as an alumni, I want to see people taking pictures with it. I want them to be engaged with IUP.”