COOS BAY, Ore. – How do you honor a person who continuously helps young people navigate the world and always gives back to students in an uplifting way? Someone who’s volunteered for more than a decade mentoring college students and coaching K-12 and college athletes?
Here’s how: The college is pleased to announce 2000 graduate LaMont Swinson of Coos Bay is our 2019 Distinguished Alumnus.
“LaMont has overcome much adversity in his life. He never gave up on his dream and is a great example of the success that comes from resiliency and determination,” said Dr. Patty Scott, president.
LaMont is an assistant vice president and branch manager for First Community Credit Union in North Bend, and a lot more. He has spent a big chunk of his life at SWOCC.
Excelling on court, in class
LaMont started with the college in 1997, competing in basketball. He led the Lakers to a Northwest Athletic Conference Southern Regional Championship in 2000. A first-generation college student, he graduated with an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree. He then moved to the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. There, he led OIT’s men’s basketball team to the Elite Eight national tournament in its league.
LaMont eventually returned to Coos Bay and soon found his way back onto SWOCC’s campus. He’s a longtime member of the Laker Alumni Association and the assistant men’s basketball coach. He also coaches a youth sports team and mentors young people, teaching them to manage money and encouraging them go to college.
“I express to them it might not have been part of the plan to be at SWOCC, but believe me that everyone here wants you to succeed,” LaMont said. “All in all, SWOCC allows young people a great opportunity to start their foundation.”
Swinson came from Wasilla, Alaska. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, and it wasn’t easy getting here.
“It’s one of those situations where at some point, you have to make a decision to connect and better your life,” Swinson said.
Instead, he focused on school. Teachers and coaches recognized his potential, and opened their homes to give him a safe, stable place to live and a supportive environment to graduate.
“Living with these other families, even though they didn’t have everything in the world, they made good choices,” he said. “Sometimes it’s harder to make those good choices.”
After OIT, like many young people Swinson had the dream to compete professionally in sports, but priorities changed when his first child was born with a heart problem. He moved his family back to Coos Bay, focused on family and went to work. In 2007, he became branch manager at the credit union and he’s become more involved with students ever since.
“I express to them it might not have been part of the plan to be at SWOCC, but believe me that everyone here wants you to succeed,” Swinson said. “All in all, SWOCC allows young people a great opportunity to start their foundation and start learning in a positive environment on what they might want to become.”
The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to their professions, communities or academia.