It’s a family thing

When Lindsey Swindler was adopted 21 years ago, her uncle held up a “Mizzou Class of 2024” sign at her welcome party. That same sign reemerged this weekend as Swindler walked the commencement stage at Mizzou Arena.

lindsey holds a sign as a baby and again at graduation

May 9, 2024
Contact: Courtney Perrett,

In 2003, 13-month-old Lindsey Swindler was met by her new family at the Kansas City International Airport. Wielding a collection of balloons, flowers and signs, the family eagerly awaited her arrival from China. Swindler’s uncle, Ted Ayres (J.D. ’72), was among those gathered — standing front and center proudly holding a handcrafted “Mizzou Class of 2024” sign.

Twenty one years later, Ayres’ prophecy came true — as Swindler became one of more than 5,100 graduates from the University of Missouri this past weekend.

Forging her own path

Coming to Mizzou ended up being the perfect union of family tradition and her own passions, Swindler said.

“Mizzou is a pillar in my family; it’s one of our staple values,” said Swindler, who graduated from Platte County High School in Platte City, Missouri. “When it came time to make my college decision, I initially considered trying something new and different — and further from home. But I also knew I wanted to study dietetics, and Mizzou has a great program for that.”

In the end, she recalled, “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

In addition to her studies, Swindler further embraced Mizzou traditions by playing clarinet for Marching Mizzou. She was even selected to perform in New York City as part of the 2022 Macy’s Day Parade. She also got involved in another Mizzou tradition — football — working in athletic dining, where she helped facilitate meals in the south end zone to ensure the team had adequate nutrition.

“One of my core childhood memories was coming to Mizzou for football and basketball games, so it was incredible to get to work with the team in this capacity,” Swindler said.

During her time on campus, Swindler was a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority as well as the Panhellenic Association. She was also part of Tau Beta Sigma, a music service organization that supports the university’s band life, during her years in Marching Mizzou.

Swindler said Mizzou became an extension of her home, and even though she graduated from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Saturday, she’s not ready to leave just yet. Swindler plans to stay on campus to continue studying dietetics and complete a graduate degree, which will set her up to qualify as a fully fledged dietitian and enable a career in clinical practice.

“When I decided to pursue nutrition and dietetics as a career, I knew Mizzou’s program would be the best fit for me,” Swindler said. “It’s home to talented professors and students who are dedicated to being the best in this field — they were ranks I saw myself joining one day.”

Traditions for the win

The Swindler family’s roots run deep at Mizzou. From Ayres, who earned his law degree from the university in 1972 to Swindler’s parents, who graduated with degrees in education and business in the ’80s and ’90s, to a number of cousins who are proud Tigers, the family contributes to its shared legacy — one that grows with each additional graduate.

“We’re certainly invested in the university,” said Ayres, who served as president of the Mizzou Alumni Association Board of Directors for the 2016-17 term. “It was a very exciting time for my sister and brother-in-law when they adopted Lindsey, and I guess I just thought it was automatic that this little girl was going to grow up and go to the University of Missouri. We are all so proud to have celebrated Lindsey’s graduation with the family and to see her go on to excel in graduate school and beyond.”

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