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Sydney Swain on path toward her goal: improving sustainability in global supply chains

It’s been an eventful week for Sydney Swain, a junior in NC State’s Poole College of Management.

On March 11, she learned that she had been awarded a John Philip Couch Scholarship through the North Carolina Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (NC-AATF).

The $6,000 scholarship, distributed by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (NC-AATF), will help support her first year of studies at NEOMA Business School in Reims, France. Swain is Poole College’s first student to enter the second stage of the four-year French track of the International Business Dual Degree (IBDD) program, one of three language tracks offered by Poole College with its partner schools in the International Partnership of Business Schools (IPBS).

“Being part of the IBDD program has already affected my life, even having not yet left for my studies in France,” Swain wrote in response to an email interview with Poole College communications.

“Students from France, Germany and Italy also participate in this program and come to study at NC State, so I have been able to meet and form strong friendships with all different kinds of people,” she said.
On March 14, another piece of her academic and career puzzle fell into place.

“One the requirements for the IBDD program is to complete a summer internship between the sophomore and junior year in any U.S. city. I just was offered and accepted a global supply chain internship with bioMérieux for this summer, which is a French company that has their North and South American headquarters in Durham,” she said.

“Choosing to be in the IBDD program was a no-brainer for me,” Swain said. “It will allow me to have the greatest degree of immersion in French business culture because I will be studying in France for two years, in classes taught only in the French language.”
Students in the four-year IBBD program complete their first two years at their home university, and the final two years at one of the IBBD international partner schools.

“After four years in this program, I will graduate with two degrees, study abroad experience, professional experience in France, and complete French fluency. It really is an opportunity of a lifetime and I am so fortunate to be able to take part in this,” she said.

Swain began her academic program as an NC State Distance Education student while living in the Dominican Republic in the fall of 2013.

“I actually did not plan to spend my first collegiate semester in the Dominican Republic. I had been working for a non-profit organization on the northern and most impoverished side of the island every summer since I was a freshman in high school. After I graduated in 2013, I went there for what I thought would be another summer of work, but I got very invested in a few projects that I wanted to see through.

“The non-profit is called Caribbean Sustainability Institute, and it works on community development projects in a number of villages to improve problems that are environmental, socioeconomic, educational, etc. I became most involved in a newly-designed ceramic gasification stove and spent the semester working to finance and distribute it to a Haitian refugee camp,” she said.

Swain said she was not able to attend a university while in the Dominican Republic, “mainly because the closest one was three hours away from where I was working.”
Instead, she took a full course load (four classes providing 12 credit hours) online through NC State’s Distance Education program. Her coursese were in calculus, international studies, women and poverty, and women and culture.

“Taking those courses was particularly challenging for me because I was living in a village with no electricity or running water, let alone Wi-Fi. I had to walk and then take a bus for about 45 minutes to get to the nearest internet café, but it was well worth it. I finished that semester with a 4.0 and was able to witness firsthand the globalization/poverty effects that I was learning about in my courses. I was also able to completely immerse myself in the Dominican culture and pick up Spanish and Haitian Creole,” Swain said.

Her interest in sustainability has continued to guide her business studies at NC State. “I have a good relationship with Jessica Thomas (director of the Sustainability Initiative at Poole College) and I am interested in working with sustainability in business,” she said.

“I chose to concentrate in supply chain because I want ultimately to work to improve sustainability within global corporations’ channels of operations. Environmental resources are depleting all around the world because of human activities (particularly consumerism), and large companies are in a position to be leaders to change this for future generations,” Swain said.