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Thalyta Louw Swanepoel

School of Professional Studies


Ph.D., 2012, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
M.A. (Communication Studies - Journalism) (Cum Laude), 2005, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
B.A. (Communication), 1986, Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Dr. Christian Barnard, the surgeon who performed the world’s first successful heart transplant. Fran Drescher, star of “The Nanny.” Zackie Achmat, AIDS activist of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign. Tony Leon, former leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance. These are some of Dr. Swanepoel’s most interesting interviews during her career as a professional journalist before she joined Olivet’s faculty in 2009.

Her journalism teaching career began in 2003 before she came to the United States. She taught full-time at the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University (NWU), South Africa.

In 2009, she and her family moved to the United States, when she accepted a full-time position at Olivet. She teaches courses in journalism — including writing, editing and layout/design —and communication ethics at Olivet. As faculty sponsor for the GlimmerGlass, the campus newspaper, she provides guidance and also leads by example. In June and July 2011, she interned at the Kankakee “Daily Journal.”

As a professional journalist, Dr. Swanepoel has 13 years of varied experience. She began her career at a community newspaper, “The Northern Review” in Polokwane, Limpopo, South Africa.

Next, she joined the staff of “Beeld,” the largest Afrikaans daily newspaper in South Africa. She covered most beats — crime, court, “woman’s page,” environment — eventually specializing in medical reporting.

Her first major story came soon after she started at “Beeld”: the crash of Flight 295, a Boeing 747 called “The Helderberg,” killing everyone on board. She was part of the team reporting on the catastrophe.

Shortly after the first case was identified in South Africa, she began writing about HIV/AIDS. Soon, this became the topic she lived for. She eventually wrote about the economics, social aspects, the science, the heartache and the triumphs of HIV/AIDS.

Advancing to senior journalist with “Beeld,” while continuing to focus on medical news, she headed up the crime team; then ran the East Rand office; and finally joined the in-depth reporting team in Johannesburg. After leaving the newspaper to begin teaching journalism, she did some freelance writing for “Beeld” and various magazines.

Her career path has also included work as an advertising representative and a public relations coordinator. At “Sarie,” a South African women's magazine, written in Afrikaans, she was the PR officer in Sandton. She also served as the national PR coordinator for the Cancer Association of South Africa’s at the head office in Bedfordview.

In the academic arena, Dr. Swanepoel has published several articles in South African academic journals; and read several conference papers in South Africa, Europe and the U.S. She is the author of two textbook chapters in South Africa, redefining community newspapers (published in 2010) and ethics in AIDS reporting (published in 2011).

Her professional awards include top-10% achiever (2007), Institutional Research Excellence Award for academic publications (2007) and Excellence in Teaching Award (2005) at NWU. In 2002, she was the sole representative of the Media24 daily newspapers “Beeld,” “Die Burger” and “Volksblad” at the 14th International HIV/AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain. In 2001, she received the Feature Article of the Year Award (“Beeld” newspaper), based on her body of work in medical and health journalism.

She is a member of Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), and the South African Academy for Arts and Science.

Her love for music tends toward the eclectic with a special affection for the classics, especially Baroque. She also enjoys photography, crocheting, sewing and creating mosaics – when she has a window of time. 

Dr. Swanepoel and her husband, Andre, were married in 1992. They have three children: son, Etienne, and twin daughters, Kristi and Lisa. All are natives of South Africa. Living and working in the United States has fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams.



And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.