College's First Black Grad Speaks at Agnes Scott's 2010 MLK Convocation

Friday, January 8, 2010

ATLANTA — Trailblazer and long-time educator Edna Patricia Lowe Swift ’71, Agnes Scott’s first black graduate, will speak at the college’s Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Jan. 13.

The convocation, titled “Embracing Our Past: Honoring Trailblazers at Agnes Scott College,” is at 10 a.m. in Presser Hall, Gaines Chapel. A reception follows in Rebekah Scott Hall, Katharine Woltz Reception Room.

On June 6, 1971, Swift became the first black graduate of Agnes Scott College. Her curious and adventurous spirit inspired her to apply for admission in 1967. When she received her acceptance letter and scholarship award, Swift said, she and her mother were elated. 
Edna Lowe Swift

The lovely campus, combined with a warm reception by then President Wallace M. Alston, solidified Swift’s decision to attend Agnes Scott. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and teacher certification credentials. 

Swift’s 28-year teaching career was spent in Atlanta; it began at Franklin D. Roosevelt and Hoke Smith high schools and ended at Southside Comprehensive High School. She taught English as a Second Language (ESL), Spanish and English.

Swift was the sponsoring teacher for nine students’ semester abroad travels to various areas of Spain. Her students participated in numerous competitions throughout the city and at Georgia Southern University’s spoken language competitions. Swift’s unique teaching style, infused with song and dance, won over many students who otherwise may never have pursued learning a second language. 

In 2000, Swift received a scholarship from the Embassy of Spain that allowed her to spend two summers living and studying in Salamanca, Spain. She earned a master’s degree in Spanish language and culture in 2001 from the University of Salamanca. A devotee of global travel, Swift has also visited Mexico City, Guadalajara, Acapulco, Cancun, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. 

She retired from the Atlanta Public Schools in 2005 to care for her husband, who died in 2006. She continues to serve as a substitute teacher, primarily working with special needs students. 

Swift has three children: Shanika (who earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Agnes Scott and an M.B.A. from Mercer University); Akinyele, who attended Georgia Southern University; and Ayesha, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The University of Georgia. Swift has two teenage grandchildren, Tori and Jerry.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.