November 2, 2021 Succeeder Stories

Achievement Story: Trina Swanson, North High School Alum

Trina Swanson
A North High School alum and Princeton University graduate, Trina Swanson says her education with the SCCSD paved the way for her personal success.

Sioux City, Iowa – Trina Swanson is living proof of how success starts with a strong foundation.

As a middle and high school student, Trina was very involved in music – a passion that might have been influenced in part by her mother, Karin Swanson, a music teacher at Perry Creek Elementary School. Trina spent hours practicing her craft, joining North High School’s orchestra, band, jazz band, and marching bands.

When Trina wasn’t making music, she dedicated herself to her studies.

“Sometimes in middle school, and even high school, it can be hard to see beyond individual homework assignments and papers. It’s not easy to see the point of the assignments and how they apply to the real world,” says Trina. “You can’t suddenly decide your senior year in high school that you want to get a scholarship for college. Good academic habits start all the way back in middle school – finishing all your homework, asking questions when you don’t understand, and studying for tests.”

Having an army of remarkable teachers helps too. Trina credits much of her personal success to the dedication of her teachers at Lincoln Elementary, North Middle School, and North High School.

During Trina’s junior year of high school, her father died from cancer. Trina’s teachers rallied around her.

“When I came back to school after my dad’s funeral, my teachers were incredible. I especially remember Mrs. Reed in AP chemistry, Mrs. Elgert in calculus, Mr. Olorundami in English, and Mr. Stoneking in choir,” recalls Trina. “They were very understanding during this hard time for me. I missed a lot of school, but they made sure I got caught back up so I could still excel in my classes.”

As Trina looked ahead to high school graduation, the education and experiences she had as a student in the Sioux City Community School District prepared her for another academic challenge. Trina was accepted into Princeton University where she majored in anthropology while taking pre-med classes.

While Princeton University was a rigorous academic environment, Trina says she was prepared.

“Taking Mrs. Reed’s AP chemistry class helped me learn how to study for the rigor of Princeton. Because I did well on the AP test, I was even able to skip the first year of general chemistry in my premedical tract. I am also thankful for Mrs. Limoges’ AP English literature class which prepared me to write full length research papers,” says Trina.

Her many hours in music also helped Trina succeed.

“Learning to be disciplined with practicing instruments helped me be disciplined with my studies in college,” adds Trina.

Since graduating from Princeton University in 2020, Trina has traveled the globe. A Fulbright scholar, Trina is currently living in Eswatini conducting anthropology research, interviewing health care workers at a pediatric clinic about their experiences through the COVID-19 pandemic. Once her research is completed, she plans to attend medical school.

Though she is thousands of miles away, Trina still says the experiences she received as a student within the SCCSD paved the way for her success.

“I had so many supportive teachers all through my education within the District. Without them, there is no way I could have gotten to where I am today. Thank you, SCCSD!”