After high school, a determined and curious Swanberg left home to pursue her education and worked hard to pay off her tuition. She enrolled in school when she had the money to do so.
She likes to think of herself as an “inter-disciplinarian.” Through scholarships and hard work, Swanberg managed to earn several degrees over nearly a third of her lifetime.
Swanberg earned her B.A. from the University of Oregon in psychology because she had a great interest in neuroscience, which is still true. From there, she went to law school at the UO and earned a J.D. after a neighbor introduced her to the growing opportunities for female lawyers in the United States during the feminist movement.
As much as Swanberg loved the law and serving the public, she always had a greater passion for science and wished to return to it. Later, she attended Sacramento State University and earned an M.S. in biological sciences.
Swanberg took advantage of the new cutting-edge genetics technology and did a research project in which she studied the telomeres of chromosomes that shrink with age for her Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California at Davis.
Swanberg’s most recent quest for knowledge earned her an M.A. in journalism from the University of Arizona. “Everything I’ve done has had, sort of, a thread of writing,” Swanberg said. “And journalism combines all of those things.”
In journalism, Swanberg had to research different subjects to write a scholarly article that combines everything she had studied and more. “It really gives you a wider perspective on everything,” Swanberg said.
Many people have asked Swanberg why she spent all that time and money to earn so many degrees. Her reply: “I just loved learning.”
Now, she is an assistant professor in the UA School of Journalism, where she teaches news writing, media law, environmental journalism and science journalism.
Swanberg plans to finish her research, publish it and earn tenure as an associate professor. “I like working with young people, their open minds and excitement, and helping them write their stories,” she said.