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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Student-led project swings to new heights

Photo by Paige Mathieu for The Lafayette
The group hopes to bring their swing design to other campuses across the country.

In spring 2022, Kristen Stuedel ‘22 and Remy Oktay ‘24 had a dream to bring tree swings to campus. Now, the student-led business Branch Out Swings plans to share this experience with other colleges.

“In order to be able to make that a sustainable venture … other schools that we’re in talks with, we would be selling swings to them and continuing from there on out to bring it to other schools,” Oktay said.

Oktay, Melanie Acosta ’25, John Hollington ‘24, Sarah Pezzino ’26, Jaden Stone ‘24, Swetha Tadisina ‘25 and Alexander Vest ‘25 are working together to build on last year’s success and bring playfulness back into everyday life all over the country.

“I’ve been involved with Branch Out just for a few months and I’ve already learned so much just from swinging … being a part of it made me realize how timeless swings are because you can bring back people’s childhoods when you’re giving them the opportunity to swing,” Acosta said.

According to a survey of 900 faculty members and students, 94 percent felt happier and 70 percent felt less stressed with the presence of swings. These results, in addition to general observations of students utilizing swings on campus, made the group realize the importance of these swings in everyday life.

“Can you think of a typical playground swing that has [chains and] a plastic seat?” Oktay said. “That doesn’t look nice. It’s very squeaky, but it’s really durable. So what we’ve done is we’ve married the two of those where you have a swing that looks like that classic, nostalgic, backyard tree swing, but it has the durability of a typical playground swing.”

Thanks to the Dyer Center’s Bergh Startup Accelerator, the students were able to spend their summer planning their business and discussing their plans with stakeholders, such as admissions, grounds, the risk management team, the Counseling Center and student life. The opportunity allowed the students to learn in a creative way outside of the classroom.

“There’s not a rulebook and engineers are used to having rulebooks, and it’s really exciting, fun and useful to learn how to navigate a world outside of that,” Stone said.

“I’ve sort of learned how to interact better with people, not just as a student,” Tadisina said. “That’s what I’ve been for the last fifteen, sixteen years, and you sort of go beyond that boundary.”

This project has given students the opportunity to learn skills that can be put to use beyond Lafayette. Although some members of the group will be graduating in the spring, Branch Out Swings will continue to exist as a business that collaborates with both the recent graduates and remaining students. 

“It’s probably been about one-thousand hours that I’ve been spending on this and it’s not the most fun when you’re staring at a computer, writing documents or putting together designs, but every week or so, coming out into the Quad and hearing that laughter, seeing the joy that people are experiencing, knowing that that’s really what we’re working towards, is probably my favorite,” Oktay said.

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Paige Mathieu
Paige Mathieu, Staff Culture Writer

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