By Rob Rhodes, Blue Ridge Student Services Coordinator
When recent Brevard High School graduate and current Blue Ridge Community College student Baxter Swicegood was growing up in Pisgah Forest, he and his two brothers didn’t have what many kids usually have to play — video games. No Xbox, no PlayStation, no Minecraft, just the truly interactive playground of the great outdoors is where you would find the Swicegood boys.
This waterfall and wood-filled world no doubt played a large part in developing the athleticism Baxter used to lead the Blue Devils varsity football team to one of the winningest teams in years. In his senior season as quarterback and team captain, Baxter was the Mountain 6 Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Brevard High School’s Offensive Impact Player, and a Times-News All Area Player.
But sports isn’t all there is to this young man. He is a leader off the field, too. According to Kayla Byrd, guidance counselor at Brevard High, Swicegood was a member of the FFA, a youth organization preparing members for careers in agriculture, served as a leader in FCA preparing lessons for the group and serving as a mentor, and was on the team of SkillsUSA, a career and technical organization, in which he placed third at the regional competition. He also worked many hours landscaping at Brevard High.
Byrd states, “Not many students are invited to participate in these opportunities which shows Baxter is a hard worker, responsible, and differentiates himself from his peers.”
Transylvania County Schools/Blue Ridge welding instructor Jay Case said this about Swicegood, “He’s one of the more determined individuals I’ve ever met. If he really wants something, look out!”
So why would a successful athlete and proven leader choose Blue Ridge, the local community college, instead of a large four-year university? For Swicegood, there are many reasons. Primarily to stay close to his family and hometown, but the affordability, flexible class options, and the reputation of instructors like English Faculty Ben Hardy, made it an easy choice.
Swicegood’s career goal is to own a landscaping and construction business, so by staying at home he can work in these fields, learning the basics of the trade, while using his college transfer degree from Blue Ridge to continue his studies at a college or university with a major in Business Management.
Fortunately the two schools he’s considering, Western Carolina University and Brevard College, are part of the NC Comprehensive Articulation Agreement with Blue Ridge. This agreement makes transferring credits between NC community colleges and all NC public universities and most private institutions seamless. Swicegood completed 11 tuition-free credit hours while at Brevard High that will go towards his Associate’s degree at Blue Ridge and eventually his Bachelor’s degree.
There are many reasons Swicegood chose to stay in his hometown and start his education at Blue Ridge, but one of the most important is something we all can relate to: “I’m really excited because a bunch of my buddies will be here.”
Blue Ridge Community College will have a final registration on August 18 from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Call 883-2520/694-1900 or visit blueridge.edu for more information on programs, the admissions process, and financial aid.