Jeffrey L. Swanson Memorial Scholarship
"Just go. Lay down all your doubts and hit the road. You don't know what the future holds, so get off the couch while you can! The beauty is out there waiting to be captured." That was the philosophy of landscape photographer Jeffrey Swanson after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma at the age of 28.
“It grew from his unyielding pursuits as a photographer and lifelong determination to seek out new experiences, places, and perspectives, despite the debilitating effects of a devastating disease,” Jeff’s wife, Samantha Henneberry, explains.
Jeffrey grew up in Wickford and graduated from North Kingstown High School in 2002, where he was a member of the school’s jazz band and its first sailing team. He earned degrees in applied statistics at Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rhode Island, then moved to California in 2008 to be with Sam, whom he married in 2013. There, he worked as a statistician, but his wife and mother agree that his passion was photography.
“As a photographer, Jeff made it a priority to travel to the most beautiful places in California, on his own, with Sam, with photographer friends, or with me. We got to see beautiful places in the best light, through his eyes,” Alanna says, recalling family trips to the Sierras, Death Valley, the Redwoods, and California coast.
“He had a quick-witted, goofy side and an extraordinary ability to make friends. We joke that he invented the selfie because he loved crafting self-portraits so much. Jeff left a lasting, positive impression on everyone he met,” Samantha shares.
Jeff died in August 2014 at the age of 30, but his name and spirit will live on through his photographs and through this scholarship fund for students at North Kingstown High School who have demonstrated a passion for photography and an interest in wilderness preservation.
Samantha first learned of the Foundation as a sophomore at URI, when she was awarded a Metcalf Fellowship to participate in an archaeological excavation in Greece. “We’ve come full circle and feel honored to support local student artists,” she concludes.