Alumna Helps Direct High-Profile U.S. Senate Campaign
Heather Swift ’09CPS, ’11MS has always been interested in politics. Now the Baldwinsville, NY, native is working on the front lines of a U.S. Senate race that is making national and local headlines.
“I always wanted to work behind the scenes in getting people elected,” said Heather, who has been named Deputy Communications Director for Mark Neumann for U.S. Senate — one year after receiving her Master of Science degree in International Communication from St. John’s University’s College of Professional Studies. Heather was assisting with Neumann’s campaign at Mercury Public Affairs when she was selected for the post.
Neumann is running in Wisconsin's four-way GOP Senate primary against former four-term Governor Tommy Thompson. “It’s been ranked among the country’s most competitive races by both Politico and The Hill,” she said. “We are favored to win.”
While her new position affords her little down time, Heather prefers it that way. “Believe it or not, it’s easier to have no free time because I don’t have the luxury of putting things off till tomorrow,” said Heather, who recently relocated to Wisconsin to work on the campaign. Never far from her BlackBerry, she constantly monitors the media for any issues that may arise. “I have to know if my client is in the news and if there’s anything I need to do about it.”
Heather knew early on that that one day she would be involved in the political arena, but she admits, “I had no idea that my current position even existed when I started out at St. John’s.” As a freshman, she enrolled in a course with John DiMarco, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of Public Relations. There Heather learned about the inner workings of an election campaign.
“Dr. DiMarco taught me how you can use public relations to get people elected or influence legislation,” said Heather. “I had always thought that public relations involved running fun events and parties for companies. It was fascinating to learn about the political side of things.”
Heather earned her undergraduate degree in Public Relations and returned to St. John’s for graduate school at the suggestion of Basilio Monteiro, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Mass Communication. “Dr. Monteiro really pushed me to get my master’s degree,” she said. “He has such a passion for getting students to use their intellect and education to better the world. He wills people to succeed. If he says you will succeed, you will. You have no choice!”
Despite her busy schedule, Heather still keeps in touch with fellow alumni she met during her freshman year at St. John’s. “I lived on campus, and we were a really tight-knit group,” she said, noting that the University’s New York City location played a big role in her decision to attend. “I grew up in a small town with only 60 people in my high school graduating class. I needed that big city experience.”
Ultimately, said Heather, “Any college can teach you how to work hard, manage your time and in the process, turn you into an adult. St. John's taught me how to translate that strong work ethic into becoming a productive and moral leader.”