Monthly Archives: August 2017

Interview in The Stute

Please enjoy the interview with me below in The Stute, the student newspaper of Stevens Institute of Technology.

Interview with Doctor Swindall

Whether you love the humanities or came to Stevens to escape them, all freshmen are required to take CAL 103 and 105. The good news is that Stevens Professor Lindsey Swindall loves helping predominantly math-minded students tap into their creative side and cultivate a new way of thinking. Her favorite part of her job is helping students “be a little bit more creative,” and “kind of use the other side of the brain.”

Dr. Lindsey Swindall is a professor in the College of Arts and Letters, teaching CAL 105 and U.S. History classes. She has taught at Stevens for two and a half years, and absolutely loves interacting with Stevens students. Most importantly, she understands that some students may be science and math oriented and is able to assist them in exploring art, philosophy, and effectively communicating their thoughts. She says that when students approach the required Freshman Experience classes with an open mind, a wide variety of new perspectives are brought to light, which is, to her, the ultimate goal. Luckily, being the professor of U.S. History, Dr. Swindall often sees the manifestation of her hard work, as she encounters upperclassman students that she previously had as freshmen; she “really enjoy[s] seeing how they’ve grown and how they are still changing,” in the years after she’s taught them.

While studying history at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Swindall took a year off to live in England and travel and then spent another year in England completing a study abroad program as a junior. These two years abroad really opened her eyes; being abroad helped her acquire a global perspective and a taste for learning about foreign societies. Inspired by her travels in South Africa, Dr. Swindall went on to the University of Massachusetts to earn her doctorate in African American Studies. At graduate school in 2002, she became interested in Paul Robeson, an actor involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and began writing her first book, The Politics of Paul Robeson’s Othello.

Outside of teaching, Dr. Swindall enjoys meditation; in fact, this past summer, Dr. Swindall spent some time in a Buddhist monastery, in which she ‘unplugged’ and lived the way a monk does. Through this experience, she found it really calming and rewarding to “just disengage from all the craziness of the outside world.” So, to bring this relaxing hobby to campus, she began Mid-Day Mindfulness, a club in which students meditate on Thursday afternoons. The goal of Mindfulness is to give the tired minds of students a break, and to help students disengage from their stressful realities and “be really mindful of the moment.” Additionally, she created a dramatic program inspired by her research on Paul Robeson that she takes to high schools and middle schools, which she utilizes as a platform to inspire young students to take advantage of their education and strive to reach their full potential. Fortunately, Dr. Swindall has recently been accepted into the New Jersey Humanities Council, as a public scholar, and will have ample opportunity to engage the general public and promote the widespread benefits of education.

Her biggest piece of advice for incoming freshmen is to keep an open mind and engage in new experiences, whether that means taking a seemingly impossible class, joining a club, or traveling half-way across the globe; college is the time to step out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons.


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On the Hudson

Last weekend I went on a boat tour around the island of Manhattan.  It was an architectural tour led by Arthur, from the American Institute of Architects, who was also a native New Yorker.  This was one of the most enjoyable outings that I have ever taken, not just in the city, but in my life.  The weather was perfect: sunny and warm but not too hot.  The marriage of history and architecture in the narration was fascinating.  The views on the Hudson, East, and Harlem Rivers were stunning.


However, my favorite part of the trip, by far, was making the turn from the Harlem River at the northernmost point of the island back into the Hudson.  The river is so wide up there and there was so much green rising from the banks of the river.  Couldn’t help but wonder if that was like Henry Hudson’s first glimpses of the area.  He wrote in 1609:

“The land is the finest for cultivation that I ever in my life set foot upon, and it also abounds in trees of every description.”  

Of course, the land would never be the same after his expedition.  But when encountering these passing moments of sheer natural beauty, one can imagine what it must have been like before the Dutch then the British settled here.



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Lost Gloves

I really enjoyed a recent article in the New York Times called “Turning Negative Thinkers into Positive Ones.” The author points to several studies which found that “More than a sudden bonanza of good fortune, repeated brief moments of positive feelings can provide a buffer against stress and depression, and foster both physical and mental health ….”  This also resonates with the foundation of mindful living, I thought.  Slowing down, paying attention, and living in the now, I’ve found, often feeds into “micro-moments of positivity” (a term from psychologist Barbara Fredrickson).

This past winter I began chronicling lost gloves that I saw in the street.  I had always noticed them, and thought the phenomenon was funny: a glove without a mate in a random place.  Having grown up in places that didn’t have much winter, the lost gloves were a symbol of life in a colder climate.  This past winter I started taking photos of them.  The more I took photos, the more I noticed them.  I found myself slowing down when walking through the city to look for them, and finding one always made me smile.  They became like a little message from the universe: everything is okay, no need to rush, take a moment to breathe and laugh.  The lost gloves became my micro-moments of positivity!  Now that it is summer, I am recording lost flip flops and other funny lost items in the street.  But the gloves of winter are, by far, my favorite.  Here’s to smiles during winter (and all seasons!)

A Few Lost Gloves From Winter 2016-17







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