RCW: WEF Donor Spotlight: The Swank Family
Darrell and Julie Swank, from Wichita, Kansas, believe in what Kansas Athletics does for student-athletes and have been supporting the Kansas Jayhawks as donors since 1991. Their belief in student-athlete support was bolstered when they received a first-hand look into the department as oldest daughter Rebecca chose to compete for the Kansas swimming and diving team. A Jayhawk swimmer from 2009-13, Swank was an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection and was named the Big 12’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year during her senior season. Darrell and Rebecca shared their thoughts in this Williams Education Fund Donor Spotlight.
How did you and your family become involved with the University of Kansas?
Darrell: As native Kansans and sports enthusiasts, my wife, Julie, and I both followed the Jayhawks growing up. While we did not attend the University of Kansas, we became much more involved when our oldest daughter, Rebecca, decided to attend KU to pursue her college degree and swim for the Jayhawks.
Rebecca, you had scholarship offers to swim at many different schools. Why did you decide to come to KU?
Rebecca: I was fortunate to be able to consider a variety of great schools. However, during my recruiting visit I really connected well with members of the team, my fellow recruits and the coaches. I could easily see myself fitting in with the group, hopefully contributing right away as a freshman, and also obtaining a great education in the business school.
Was your experience as a Jayhawk student-athlete everything you envisioned both athletically and academically?
Rebecca: It was great. With the support of my teammates, coaches and many others, I was able to accomplish my goals both in the pool and classroom. During my senior year, I was fortunate to be named the Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. While it was a challenge to balance my academics and athletics, I was fortunate to have the Kansas Athletics support staff provide me with the help and encouragement I needed to succeed.
Describe your experience as a parent of a Jayhawk student-athlete.
Darrell: My wife, Julie, and I really enjoyed becoming more a part of Kansas Athletics through Rebecca’s participation. We attended as many swim meets as possible to cheer on Rebecca and her teammates. We were fortunate that one of us could do so for every meet of her senior year (both on the road and at home). Through that experience and spending time with the other athletes, parents, coaches and support staff, we gained a much better appreciation of the commitment it requires for individuals to perform well academically and athletically at a school like the University of Kansas.
Why has your family continued to support Kansas Athletics through the Williams Fund?
Darrell: Quite simply, we believe in Kansas Athletics and what it does for young people. Julie and I lived first-hand how it helped Rebecca swim while obtaining two degrees from KU. We want to be able to help other student-athletes and their parents have a similar, positive academic and athletic experience.
The Williams Education Fund generates financial support for all University of Kansas student-athletes with a responsibility to facilitate, promote and enhance academic and athletic experiences. In 2016, the Williams Education Fund has established a goal of raising $19.5 million in support of 500+ student-athletes through the WEF Unrestricted and Scholarship funds. In order to reach this goal, it will take the support of Jayhawks from around the world as we strive to build the Williams Fund to 8,000 members strong. Learn more and join us on our quest to reach 8,000 members by visiting http://williamsfund.com/sports/2017/1/24/our-mission.aspx?path=abt