Nick Swink, B.A.s in education sciences, political science, and social policy and public service
Class of 2023 graduate Nick Swink, B.A.s in education sciences, political science, and social policy and public service. (Steve Zylius/UCI)

Nick Swink believes one of the best ways to solve problems is through education and educational policy. Embodying the intersectionality of his three majors – political science, social policy and public service, and education sciences – he has been a force for positive, policy-driven change during his time at UCI. The public service-oriented Anteater has fulfilled his civic responsibilities on both the local and national levels. As part of his SPPS major requirements, Swink worked with formerly incarcerated students in a yearlong field study with Project Rise in Orange County. This past summer, he interned in the Office of National Drug Control Policy through the UCDC Program. Swink is dedicated to giving back to his community and is ending his time at UCI as an assistant in the same SPPS course for which he conducted field research last year and as a peer advisor for this year’s cohorts in the UCDC Program.

Can you describe a time you felt most proud to be an Anteater?

While in D.C. for my UCDC internship, I had the chance to talk with students from across the country. I talked to students from D.C., Ohio, Virginia, Georgia and Louisiana, just to name a few, as well as students from across all the UCs. Talking to these students about our school experiences really helped to shape my perception of UCI and gain a new perspective on the parts of being an Anteater that I’m really lucky to have. 

What are your plans after graduation?

Eventually, I want to go to law school, but I will initially be taking a gap year or two. Ideally, during that time, I would love to work in a job around education work, in either an administrative or policy area. If those options don’t work out, I’ll look toward public service/nonprofit work.

“Nick is a student leader with experience in the Capitol and local community. With an understanding of federal government processes and legislation, Nick is committed to making social change and addressing social problems. Along with investing his time on national issues, he finds ways to serve at the community and university level. Hard work, advocacy and service are a few of his values. Nick inspires other students to be active student scholars invested in a social cause. Socially conscious, with a heart to give and with strong analytical, writing and oral skills, he has a very bright tomorrow.”

– Jeanett Castellanos, professor of teaching in the School of Social Sciences

Who has been your biggest influence at UCI?

One of my biggest influences has been Dr. Jeanett Castellanos, associate dean of undergraduate students in the School of Social Sciences. She has been a great mentor, both in the academic realm – helping build my first research project – and in the career realm – reigniting my love for public service and building community. 

Another big influence would be UCI’s Office of Civic Engagement and the UCDC Program. Michelle Mallen and Ellen Kern at the Office of Civic Engagement played a large role in making me who I am today. D.C. was a life-changing opportunity that made me more confident in myself, more than I would ever be without the opportunity.

What advice would you give to your first-year self?

To take a breath. Going into my freshman year, and as COVID-19 first hit and we were all sent home, I was so stressed and anxious about what to do with my future and how to go about making a future for myself that I would want. Getting into graduation, I would’ve never guessed that I’d have the experiences that I have now – I doubt I knew they were even possible. Taking a break, breathing, and trusting in my ability to learn and grow in four years at UCI would all be great pieces of advice that I would give myself.