Chrissy Swett receives 2009 Community Impact Award


A UNC Pembroke senior who has worked for three years helping elementary students learn to read has won a state community service award.

 Chrissy Swett

From left: Stacy Knotts, Chrissy Swett and Campus Compact Director Dr. Lisa Keyne

Chrissy Swett, a Pembroke native, received the 4th annual North Carolina Campus Compact Community Impact Student Award during the Student Conference held at Western Carolina University.

Swett serves as a Student Service Leader in UNCP’s Center for Leadership and Service. During her tenure, she has engaged the campus and the community in efforts to promote literacy in elementary schools.

Swett found a career and her calling as a college freshman.

“First, I wanted to do pre-med,” she said. “After working in a nursing home and a pediatrics clinic, I knew I couldn’t do that. 

 “I took an education class that was really hard work, but I learned a lot,” Swett said. “I fell in love with it.”

Volunteering for community service was not in her immediate college plan either.

“In high school, I did some one-time community service projects,” she said. “In my freshman year here, I joined the AmeriCorps literacy project and started training as a tutor.

“That’s when I realized there is a missing link between getting children to read and getting them to enjoy reading,” Swett said. “That’s when the ‘reading parties’ started.”

Swett and her volunteers in the First Book program gave books to kids and showed them that reading can be fun. In her third year in the program, she enjoys training and encouraging her peers to volunteer.

Reading education is a personal cause for the elementary education major, said Christie Poteet, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Service.

“Chrissy is extremely passionate about literacy education and engaging her colleagues in service that works to educate her community,” Poteet said. “Her dedication to this work is admirable. 

“I wish more students would take the same initiative and be just as dedicated and passionate about such an important topic,” she continued. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.” 

Besides reading parties, Swett has promoted literacy on campus by hosting literacy carnivals, poetry readings and tutor trainings. She has recruited and trained more than 30 volunteers.  

She has also participated in a number of other Center for Leadership and Service projects, including Relay for Life and currently serves on its campus steering committee.

Twenty-seven college students across the state received the award for making significant, innovative contributions to their campus’ efforts to address local community needs. The Compact is a statewide coalition of higher education leaders established to encourage and support campus engagement in the community.

Swett wants to be a 5th grade math teacher and go to graduate school. She graduated from Purnell Swett High School.   Sylva, N.C., councilwoman Stacy Knotts and Compact Director, Dr. Lisa Keyne, presented the award to Swett before an audience of more than 220 students and guests representing 25 higher education institutions. Swett also received a Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation from Gov. Beverly Perdue and a congratulatory letter from U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler.

For information about volunteer opportunities at UNCP, please contact the Center for Leadership and Service at 910.521.6163 or email