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URI professor hands daughter diploma

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Daughter hands dad his retirement papers

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 21, 2008—Alina Swonger of Saunderstown graduated this past weekend with a sociology degree. Her father, Alvin “Al” Swonger, a longtime professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, handed his daughter her diploma during URI’s College of Arts and Sciences ceremony. In turn, Alina handed her dad his retirement papers. Swonger is one of 42 professors who will retire in June.

Alina, an avid cellist, was closely involved with URI’s Music Department, as well as its Honors Program and Leadership Program. She received a full tuition scholarship for a master’s degree program in special education at Boston University.

Al joined URI’s College of Pharmacy in 1971. He is looking forward to retirement. “I am a man of many hobbies: visiting waterfalls in New England, reviewing foreign films and classical music works on the internet, and genealogy,” he says. He and his wife will again spend their summer on a lake in Maine and also look forward to some world travel during the next five years— Paris, Thailand, Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, Argentina, and India are on their itinerary.

Al and Alina are not the only Swongers associated with URI. When Elsie Castro Swonger, mother of the brood, graduated from URI in 1972, she was selected as a co-recipient of the Psychology Department’s award for outstanding psychology major. She later earned a master’s degree from Rhode Island College in instructional technology and is now a yoga instructor at All That Matters in Wakefield and at a branch of Women & Infants Hospital in East Greenwich.

Another daughter Joline Swonger graduated in 2001 with a degree in biological sciences. She earned her medical degree from Boston University Medical School last May and married J.A. McFarlan that same month. She is doing her residency in Ventura, Calif. Her specialty is family practice. She was active in the leadership program and was a finalist for the University’s prestigious Rainville Award.

Son Matthias Swonger graduated in 2006 with an English degree and was active in the honors program. He has just completed his first year at New York University Law School, one of the top four schools in the country in terms of competitiveness for acceptance and reputation.

His sister, Krishna Swonger Johnson graduated from URI in 1995 with a degree in Human Development & Family Studies. Her husband, Jeff Johnson, graduated that same year from URI’s College of Engineering and is a successful engineer with Raytheon Co. in Tewksbury, Mass.

Alina's aunt and Elsie’s sister, Delia Anderson, is also a URI graduate. She graduated from the Department of Biology in 1970 and later earned a doctorate and is now associate dean of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.

“ URI has done very well by us,” says Al. “As I said at my retirement party, URI is a place where serious students can get a great education that can then serve as a springboard for graduate studies or whatever else one wants to do in life. The special enrichment programs at URI, including the Honors Program, Leadership Program, the Centennial Scholarships that attract high quality students, and the many outstanding departmentally- and college-based majors all contribute to making URI a very special educational setting.”

Pictured above
ALL IN THE URI FAMILY: Delia Castro Anderson ‘70, Krishna Swonger Johnson‘95; Elsie Castro Swonger ‘72, Alina Swonger ‘08, Alvin Swonger, retiring professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences; and Matthias Swonger ’06. URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno.