The first time you meet Geeta Swaminathan, you can feel her energy. She instantly makes her presence known through her boundless vitality and confidence. Her eyes are expressive and warm, and her smile inviting. She was an excellent choice to lead Priory’s incredible Mothers’ Club this year.
“When Kristina [Hanley] and Denise [Cole] first called me, I thought they wanted to talk about the senior quilt. I don’t even sew, so I was really confused,” she laughs. They weren’t calling to ask about the senior quilt after all. They wanted to know if she would become President-Elect of the Priory Mothers’ Club. “I laughed and said, ‘You guys know I’m not Catholic, right?’” Geeta took some time to process the request, asking questions about the time commitment and considering her other obligations. She had, just that week, also been asked to serve on the board of advisors for Villa Duchesne, her alma mater. She works as a healthcare consultant for skilled nursing facilities, and she was preparing to send her son, Sohaan, ’15, to college. Ultimately, it was her husband, her youngest child Sohil, ’16, and her history with Priory that led her to accept the position. “Raj told me that this was the year to do it, and Sohil was excited. He said, ‘Mom, you’ll be on campus more and I’ll get to see you!’” Geeta thought about how she had practically grown up on Priory’s campus; her two brothers are alums and she has felt a connection to the school for years. “When my kids started school here, Mr. Gleich and Father Gregory both commented on how I had returned, now as a parent, after having spent so much time here when I was younger. I told them they couldn’t talk to my kids about that time!”
These days, Geeta is still spending a lot of time here. “I’m here every day. I live close, so I can pop in and out. We joke about how I’m here so much I should just get my own room. If I could stay here and have Brother Dunstan cook for me, I’d take it!” she said. She explains that at Priory, everyone feels welcome. “When you walk in, there’s no pressure. There’s just a sense that you want to be a part of it.” Her husband, Raj, saw the same thing from the moment he came to campus. Geeta explains, “I’ve always had a soft spot for Priory, and when my husband and I met, my youngest brother was here. We came to a football game and Raj announced, ‘If we have boys, this is the school we’re going to send them to.’ We weren’t even married! He decided that, all those years ago. He saw my brothers and he saw what they got out of their experience at Priory. If you ask him today, he’ll tell you that we’ve gotten exactly what he expected. People are surprised that he saw all that then.”
Things have a way of coming full circle for the Swaminathans. Geeta and Raj met when they were at Saint Louis University together. Geeta was earning her undergraduate degree in health information management with a minor in business, before moving to a master's in healthcare administration. Raj was earning his master's before heading to medical school. She was president of the student activities board and he was in a band. “We booked his band a few times for events, and I saw him at yoga. We hung out in different groups, but we started seeing each other all the time. We began having lunch together, and then one day I just knew there was something more.” Today, Geeta is president once again, and Raj is in the Priory Dad Band, playing at events like the Senior Party.
Geeta has jumped into her role as Mothers’ Club President with a spirit of cooperation and a goal to make the club more technology savvy. She is a huge fan of delegation, and carefully chose her committee chairs based on trust in their ability to get things done. She is reviewing the bylaws, updating positions and committees that no longer exist, and moving paper documentation into digital format for ease in storage and distribution. She was determined to keep the form coffees to an hour, because she likes to keep things moving. “People are busy. No one has a lot of spare time.” She doesn’t shirk from difficult conversations. “When something bad needs to be said, they call me in,” she laughs. “I’m the one who says it and moves on. And I’m a very loud person!” She wants the Priory Mothers’ Club to be seen as a good resource for the faculty and staff. “We’ll make things easier for you,” she says. “We want to build a better relationship between the moms and the faculty, because we’re not separate entities. We are all part of the school.”
She shrugs off the idea that she’s busy. “It all keeps me out of trouble,” she said. What does she do in the little spare time she has? She likes to exercise and spend time with her friends, and she enjoys being by herself and reading a good book, although that rarely happens due to her commitments. She loves to swim laps, having been a big swimmer in high school. She enjoys traveling; she’s been to India, Europe, the Orient, Mexico and the Caribbean. Now, she goes to Chicago a lot to visit daughter Selina, a junior at Loyola. When she travels, she thoroughly enjoys shopping for unique clothing that isn’t available in St. Louis. “I like things that are different,” she said. She and Raj go for regular walks, which is their chance to talk and catch up on their busy days.
And she still feels that connection to Priory. “I’m an open book. People know stuff about me! My parents are still here, my brothers come back to St. Louis and my nephews come back, and we drive them through Priory’s campus and show them where their dads went to school. My brothers have such a fondness for this place. They have this brotherhood, even after so many years, even with people in different classes.”
It’s clear that Geeta shares their fondness for Priory.