Alumna Helps Direct High-Profile U.S.
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
“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
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
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.”