Tabor degrees propelling Long, Swink to graduate school & beyond

Kole Long and Laney Swink each brought a vision for their career to Tabor College.

Four years later, those goals have been ironed out, and Long (Maize, Kan.) and Swink (Fort Gibson, Okla.) will begin preparation for doctoral and graduate work, respectively.

Long, biochemistry and biology/biomedical science double major will head to the University of Oklahoma to complete a Ph.D. in biochemistry. A master’s degree is available in two years, but a full four- to five-year stay will give Long his doctorate in his field of study.

Swink, an exercise science and psychology major, is attending Langston University to start a three-year graduate program in physical therapy.

The duo represents a growing trend of students who are both participating in Tabor’s graduate programs and pursuing other educational avenues after finishing in Hillsboro.

Long’s journey began as a freshman in high school, hearing his chemistry teacher, and a biochemical engineer, compliment his eye in the laboratory. The Solomon L. Loewen Science Building became Long’s home while at Tabor. He began conducting research alongside Dr. Josh McLoud, assistant professor of biology, in his junior year. It allowed him to do hands-on experimenting that led him to present at the Kansas Academy of Science Conference on the “ITS barcoding region of fungi.”

“Dr. McLoud and Dr. (Norman) Schmidt helped me see what I wanted to do and positioned me to apply for grad school,” Long said.

Swink’s journey as a double major helped craft her path as she begins graduate school. She recalled meeting with Jim Paulus, assistant professor of psychology, on her visit and seeing the crossover between exercise science and psychology.

Having endured injuries as a member of the Bluejay women’s basketball team, she saw her path forward. It wasn’t just to help athletes but to be a listening and supportive ear in any type of injury or accident for any age group.

“I know what my teammates and I have gone through with injuries,” Swink said. “To not have someone to talk it through with you and support you is tough. I realized how cool it would be to understand what’s going on in someone’s mind as they recover.”

Both Long and Swink said their support systems at Tabor have been invaluable.

Long was baptized as a sophomore, building his relationship with Jesus and connecting on a deeper level with his peers and professors.

“I’ve grown in my faith a lot here,” Long said. “Due to all the opportunities I had, I knew I wanted to be baptized, and I’ve had a lot of professors who have helped me get to where I am now.”

“Send me” has been the motto of Swink’s time as an undergraduate student. The words are tattooed on her arm and have helped mold her spiritually, academically, and athletically.

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”—Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

“It embodies who I am,” she said. “When I visited Tabor and was thinking of whether or not I’d go here, (my Mom) said, ‘Just remember, look at your arm.’ That reminds me of why I came here and where I’m going.”