News FlightPath Class A Way To Give Back for Swartwood ’24

January 24, 2023

A Hawks in Flight Feature

For Kara Swartwood ’24, being a teaching assistant (TA) in Professor Jim Buthman’s FlightPath class “Public Policy for a Changing US” was a way to honor the student who inspired her.

“I had a TA, Grace-Ann Colleen (Lia) Porpeglia ’22, who really made the class more enjoyable and student-focused,” she said. “She really incorporated what FlightPath should be, so I asked Professor Buthman if I could be a TA and do the same for the next class of students.”

In addition to preparing class presentations and holding office hours, Swartwood – a political science and criminal justice double major with a minor in legal studies – helped plan and accompany the class on their trip to Washington D.C. from January 15-18.

It was also a chance for her to experience the trip for the first time. “My class didn’t get to have the trip because of COVID,” she said.

While she was there, she helped students make the connections between what they were seeing, and how they could bring that back to Hartwick and their own communities.

“We spent some time at the American Indian Museum,” she said. “I was leading a group of students through the Iroquois and Mohawk exhibits and was able to talk about Hartwick’s ties to those communities. It opened their eyes to Hartwick history they didn’t know about.”

But there was also a lot to learn outside of cultural institutions.

“There’s a large homeless population in D.C.,” she said. “We walked past parks where there were 20 people living in tents. It really opened these students’ eyes to see how people live outside of their own bubbles, and they want to help. We talked about ways they could work towards supporting housing security in our communities.”

But her favorite moment was during the Peace Walk to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16. “We watched the parade go by us, then jumped on the back,” she said. “And as we’re going downhill, I see all these people in front of us, and it just hit me. We were able to bring Hartwick to be part of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy with people from all over the world.”

One student, Heaven Green ’26, even FaceTimed her family from the march to show them what she was experiencing. “It made a big impact on her,” she said. “And being part of that had a big impact on me.”