Capt. Anthony Swain is chairman of the Board of the National Alumni Association for Elizabeth City State University. (Courtesy of ECSU)
Capt. Anthony Swain is chairman of the Board of the National Alumni Association for Elizabeth City State University. (Courtesy of ECSU)

For years, Capt. Anthony Swain has been working to promote and recruit for his alma mater, Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), an HBCU in northeastern North Carolina. His official role is serving as chairman of the Board of the National Alumni Association, a role he has held for six years, through which he provides multiple scholarship opportunities and helps to recruit new students. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Swain also leads the university’s DMV area alumni chapter. Across these roles, he helps future leaders build relationships and skills to prepare for a better future. 

“When you see the Black leaders in industry, education and professional fields, you see HBCUs are punching above our size and represent the finest professionals this country has to offer,” Swain said when asked about the value of an HBCU education. This belief has dedicated him to expanding access to higher education for Black youth.

Swain graduated from ECSU in 1982 with a degree in Business Administration and concentration in accounting, expertise which aided his lengthy career in the military and government service. He first worked for the IRS in Columbia, South Carolina before serving 30 years in the Navy, traveling to dozens of countries and retiring at the rank of Captain. 

Swain has also served as a commencement speaker and Grand Marshall of ECSU’s Homecoming Parade. 

Some of the scholarship opportunities he has donated to include Alpha Phi Alpha’s Kappa Epsilon Lambda Foundation, which he donated over $36,000 to in 2022, and the Alpha Academy. This foundation hosts the largest college fair in Prince George’s, with nearly 100 universities planning to attend the 17th annual fair this upcoming November. Most HBCUs will be in attendance, as they were last year.

The Alpha Academy, a program that provides mentorship and guidance for 50 middle/high school age young men to prepare them for college, provides lessons including proper dress, financial advice and Black traditions, and Alpha Academy has been made available virtually to remain accessible during the pandemic. 

Swain also hosts an annual golf tournament at Andrews Air Force Base. This golf tournament serves to raise funds for scholarships, both for ECSU and other universities. This year the tournament will be held on July 21.

As board chairman for the school’s national alumni association, Swain said the school’s learning experience is not only unique, but offers rich connections through the alumni network. 

Sitting on the edge of the Pasquotank River in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the university offers 28 undergraduate degrees, including aviation and has student population of about 2,000.

The proud ECSU alum said he aims to embody the institution’s motto, “To live is to learn,” every day.  He added that the university’s merits create well-rounded students who, like Swain, work hard in their careers and to give back.

“This is a great University that provides a wonderful educational and life experience. We teach your people to develop into young men and women,” he said. 

1. What is your name and title? 

Tony Swain, Chairman ECSU NAA INC Board of Director and President, ECSU NAA Inc Washington DC Metro Chapter.

2. What is your relationship with Elizabeth City State University? 

I am a 40 year Alumni member, class of 1982 with a BS in Business Administration and concentration in Accounting. I am a donor and sponsored multiple Endowed Scholarships. I have been on the Board of Director  for the Alumni Association for the last six years and the President of the WASH DC Alumni Chapter for 12 years. I am a Legacy Award Winner, Distinguished Graduated, Grand Marshall for Homecoming Parade, 113th Commencement Speaker for ECSU. Also love recruiting students to attend my University. 

3. Why would you recommend students, especially DMV locals, attend that university? 

This is a great University that provides a wonderful educational and life experience. We teach your people to develop into young men and wome

5. What did you study in your time there and what does the school specialize in?

I attended ECSU 1978 to 1982, I graduated in the class of 1982 with a BS Business Administration and concentration in Accounting. I joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in the Beta Zeta Chapter April 11, 1981. I am a life member in both the Alumni association and Alpha Phi Alpha. Upon graduation from my alma Mater, I worked for the Internal Revenue Service (IRA) in Columbia South Carolina. Two years later I joined the US Navy in 1984 and served on active duty for 30 years in the Surface Warfare Community. I retired as a Navy Captain after commanding three warships (USS HUE CITY CG 66, USS CARR FFG 52 & USS RAVEN MHC 61) and served in several locations around the world including the State Department in Washington DC, Pentagon, Bahrain in the middle east, Yokosuka Japan  and traveled to over 35 countries and lived in several states MD, FL, VA, CA, TX, 7 and born and raised in South Mills, NC.

6. What scholarship opportunities are available for prospective students? I am involved in several organizations that support scholarships for students to attend college. Our focus is to support minority students with a focus on Black kids in lowering their cost for a quality education. National Naval Officers Association (NNOA), Washington DC Chapter (DCNNOA). We gave over $70,000 this year in scholarship to DMV seniors to go to college, about $3000 of that is my wife and I contributions including scholarships in Surface Warfare, Alpha Phi Alpha, and Dr. Joy Swain scholarships. 

Alpha Phi Alpha (APA) Kappa Epsilon Lambda (KEL) Foundation is another huge supporter of DMV kids providing multiple scholarships for high school senior to attend college and we are proud several are attending HBCUs. We gave $36,000 in scholarships for 2022. We have an Alpha Academy that mentors 7 to 12 graders and support up to 50 young boys to help develop into young black men with several headed to college. I am proud of how we meet with these young men twice a month during the school year with outstanding speakers that cover important issues facing these young men. We will discuss Kwanzaa, financial issues, proper dress, mental health, presentations and group work, pride in themselves is some of the topics discussed. Our KEL college fair is the largest college fair in Prince George’s County and is help the 2nd Saturday in November each year with nearly 100 colleges attending in person and virtually. Our in person fair normally features Alphas attending Bowie State University and several graduates from HBCUs from around the country.

ECSU NAA Inc, WASH DC Alumni is a great source of professional assistance with scholarships through educators, medical doctor, higher education leaders, directors, Senior Executives Services Executives, retired teachers, military, and federal employees. We host a golf tournament at Joint Base Andrews on the third Friday in July for the last 10 years to raise scholarship funds for students from the DVM attending ECSU. We gave $10,000 each year for these students to stay in school. This year 4 students received $2500 each and we hope more students apply for 2023 scholarship to increase our impact in the DMV. Next year’s ECSU Golf Tournament is July 21, 2023 at Joint Base Andrews. We also will have a 5K run walk for healthy living and to raise scholarship funds.

7. How do you work with other HBCUs to drive recruitment? 

As mentioned before our Alpha Phi Alpha (APA) Kappa Epsilon Lambda (KEL) College fair is the largest college fair in Prince George’s county for 17years and most of the HBCU’s are presented along with some PWIs each year. The cost and value of education at the HBCU is great. When you see the black leaders in industry, education, and professional fields, you see HBCU’s  are punching above our size and represent the finest professionals this country has to offer. During the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournament being held in Baltimore MD this year and next year, February 21-25, 2023. Professionals from around the world will attend, celebrate, cheer, and provide funding to their respective HBCUs and ECSU will also visit high schools in the local area to recruit talented students to attend ECSU. Normally all HBCUs in the CIAA will do the same using their band, cheerleaders, players coaches and recruiter to get our message to potential students. We have a great Aviation, New State-of- the-art Drone expands training and research at ECSU, teachers, and Business at ECSU along with several other outstanding programs and we want to recruit the best and brightest student to attend, grow and graduate and represent ECSU. Our motto is “To Live is to learn” and we are known as the “Raising Star in the North East” and Lil Liz. I am proud of being a graduate and I hope to continue to represent my school in the highest light.

There is so much more to talk about, but I don’t want to bore you with all my stories. I have other significant organizations that I am in, and we are doing the work without a lot of public acknowledgments. The results are what’s important and we continue to raise awareness and provide our talent, time, experiences, and our treasures to lift our generational Black lives. The future is bright as long as we continue to do our part and help our youth go to college and succeed and keep mentoring as they grow and develop.

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