Orange Park Resident Plans to Study Planetary Science
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Hailey Swanson is the inaugural recipient of the Florida Tech/Jacksonville Jaguars STEM Scholarship. The Orange Park, Florida, resident will start at Florida Tech in the fall as she pursues her dream of working in the space industry.
The $5,000 award is funded by the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation.
“The Jaguars Foundation is thrilled to provide Hailey with this scholarship to support her STEM education goals at Florida Tech,” said Peter Racine, senior vice president, Jaguars Foundation – Community Impact. “Jaguars owner Shad Khan graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in industrial engineering and knows firsthand the role STEM academics can play in driving innovation. We look forward to seeing what Hailey will accomplish during her college career and beyond.”
Beginning with the 2019 football season, Florida Tech became the official STEM education sponsor of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Swanson, 18, is completing her senior year at Oakleaf High School before heading to Melbourne. The campus population of Swansons will triple in the fall, in fact, as Hailey Swanson, a triplet, will be joined by her brothers Aaron and Justin.
Swanson’s interest in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – has long centered on space. Though she is excited about refining and developing a more focused plan as she attends classes, she is intrigued at this point by planetary science as a major.
“Right now, I think jumping into it is the best way that I’ll be able to figure out what path I am truly passionate about,” she said. “What I can say is that I think discovering new exoplanets is really cool, but I’d also like to see how the skills I will acquire can be used to help out our own planet, too.”
A more terrestrial passion for Swanson is band. Though adept in French horn and mellophone (similar to the French horn but with the piping twisted in a different way), she had the high honor during her senior year of serving as drum major, and in the winter season participated in her school’s inaugural Indoor Drumline team, where she performed on the cymbal line.
Being drum major – the field commander for the full band – allowed Swanson to push herself and her bandmates, in victory and defeat, and brought her confidence knowing she could handle new challenges. She was awarded the band’s first ever Best Drum Major award.
“That experience opened my eyes to many new aspects of leadership, and I am glad to take what I have learned into college and the rest of my life,” she said.
During her four years of high school, Swanson was enrolled in Advanced International Certificate of Education, or AICE, classes, which are college-level classes developed at the University of Cambridge in England.
Beyond the classroom, Swanson participates in Venture Scouts, a co-ed program of the Boy Scouts of America, and for the last eight years has been hula dancing, a tribute to where she was born — Hawai’i.
She is looking forward to her new adventures at Florida Tech in science, music and more.
“I am very grateful for the Jaguars Foundation STEM Scholarship that I have been offered, so thank you to the Jags and to Florida Tech,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to work for NASA. They are the pinnacle of space exploration in this country. So I couldn’t think of a better place to be.”