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Carolyn Sundy, 2011 Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin Honoree


Carolyn Sundy recalled with a chuckle her introduction to the Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin some 35 years ago. She was a new hire at Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College and was assigned to the setup crew. The unit prepared the booths and sites for craftsmen who came to the event to demonstrate their skills and to sell their goods. We arrived at what seemed to be the first light of day and were the last to leave. It was hard work but I learned how very special the Swappin Meetin is and what it means to so many folks, she said.

Throughout the years, she has held numerous jobs relating to the storied and successful arts and crafts festival, an event that has developed into one of the top happenings of its type in Kentucky and beyond. Now, decades after her introduction to the festival, she is to be honored as the events honoree for the 47th Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin scheduled for the Cumberland campus on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Its a blessing to be honored in such a way, she said recently, speaking from behind a cluttered desk inside her office in Chrisman Hall. Today, the Lynch native, the daughter of a coal miner and mother of two, has climbed the ranks to become the colleges vice president for Diversity/Inclusion and Special Programs.

To be named as the Honoree of the Swappin Meetin is such a tribute. I have watched the festival grow from the time there was only a handful of craftsmen all located in one central spot on campus to an event today where literally thousands of people turn out spreading far and wide across the campus.

A true ambassador of the Swappin Meetin, Sundy noted how the event works to keep the traditions and the heritage of area alive and vibrant in a time of constant change. I love the mountains and this is truly one of the highest honors ever paid to me.

Over the years, she has played a key role in helping keep the Swappin Meetin on course, and, now, for several years, she has been in charge of the Community Arts Contest which includes work done by area school children as well as adults. Their work is displayed throughout the lower floor of Chrisman Hall and serves as a testament, she says, to what the Swappin Meetin is about: Folks working together and taking pride in their God-given abilities.

A ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. on Oct. 1 will be held to honor Ms. Sundy said festival coordinator Michael Corriston. Carolyn has worked hard to help make the Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin a success. For 35 years she has given her time and talents, and on this, the 47th installment of the event, we will take time out to honor her, to pat her on the back and to say thank you for a job well done!

She noted the mountains of Harlan County are in her blood, and said she never wanted to live any other place. Born in 1951 at Notre Dame Hospital in Lynch to Henry and Evangeline Mitchell, she attended Lynch High School before enrolling at Southeast Kentucky Community amp; Technical College. She would receive a bachelors as well as masters degree from the University of Kentucky and is currently working on her dissertation for a doctorate from Mississippi State University.
While finding time to play a role in the Swappin Meetin and carrying out the duties of her job at SKCTC, she is also in demand as a speaker on diversity issues. She has spoken recently to student and faculty groups at Berea College, the University of Virginias College at Wise and at high schools across the region.

She pensively recalls her youth and growing up in Lynch, then a thriving coal town, where her father worked deep inside the mountain supporting six kids. It was a good place to live, a fine place to grow up, she said. I was content to stay in the area, and thankful that I was able to work for Southeast. I am proud of where I come from and also proud that the Kingdom Come Swappin Meetin is a success. I am happy I have been able to play a small part in its growth and its success.

Quite the ambassador for SKCTC and respected nationally for her leadership with the colleges Upward Bound Program and now its diversity initiative, she has been selected to serve on several boards including her service as a trustee with the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

She has also served as president of the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education as well as leading the Kentucky Association of Education Opportunity Program Personnel. A Kentucky Colonel, Ms. Sundy has also given her support to the Cumberland River Mental Health Board of Directors and has served on the Kentucky Board of Proprietary Education.

She is the mother of two sons, Terry Tee and Trevor, and has been blessed with three grandchildren: Teran, Tyrus and Tressany.

Carolyn Sundy on Cumberland Campus