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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 2, 2004

UI Student Jump-Starts College With AP Classes

Campus life at the University of Iowa may have many new experiences in store for Ben Swieskowski, (left) but taking college level classes won't be one of them.

Swieskowski jump-started his University of Iowa college career by taking advanced placement classes beginning in eighth grade in Des Moines. His advanced course work allowed him to start classes as a sophomore and earned him the AP (advanced placement) Scholar Award announced this fall by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson.

The AP State Scholar Award is based on test scores taken at the end of each advanced placement course. Swieskowski finished with a 4.8125 test average on a 5.0 scale. The minimum requirement is to finish each AP class with a 3.0 or higher as well as an average for all courses taken of 3.5 or higher. This is the 13th year for the Advanced Placement scholar awards. Each state and the District of Columbia name one young woman and one young man as State Scholars.

Swieskowski took 16 of the AP classes and tests, including five in one year, through Central Academy and Drake University in Des Moines. He is the son of David and Dianne Swieskowski of Des Moines.

So after taking college courses for five years, what does Swieskowski think of finally being on campus after he began classes in August?

"The biggest change - and what I like best - is the freedom," Swieskowski said. "And it's also the worst because of the responsibility.

"But it definitely worked out for the best. The professors I've had so far have been great. And I really enjoy being part of the student body."

His academic work qualified him for two scholarships: the William and Effa McMeans Scholarship from the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the UI Dean's Scholarship.

He's also done well in other competitions. He compiled a perfect score -- one of only seven nationwide -- in the six-month, six-test American Scholastic Mathematics Association exams, and in junior high, he tied for first place in a nation-wide math contest.

Although math has always been "something that comes easy for me," according to Swieskowski, his advanced placement courses also included science, history, English and computer science.

From computer science classes he moved into working with an animation program called Flash--software used to create and play web-based presentations. He also used it to write a simple ping-pong game that can now be downloaded from sites in at least five different countries.

"I did that in the summer of 2001," Swieskowski said. "By my rough count it's been played over a million times."

He also did some Flash programming for Emerging Growth Group in Des Moines as part of an internship. And he helped the company with web design for some of its clients.

Swieskowski is currently majoring in business, but he doesn't know just yet what he'll do after college.

"I haven't thought that far ahead yet," he said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Mendenhall, Writer, 319-384-0019,