Taft Alumni Hall of Fame  TAA Logo

Gay (Malewicki) Sweely, PhD, June 1964

Gay Sweely (Jun 64)While at Taft, Gay was president of the Debate Club and the Future Nurses Club, a member of National Honor Society, Honor Club, GAA, FTA, Bowling Team, and played bassoon in the band. She was named Miss Chicago Park District, Miss Junior Citizen Chicago in 1963, won 23 science fair awards including an honorable mention at the national level, and was a keynote speaker for the 1963 NAACP Convention in Chicago on the importance of youth.

Graduating cum laude from Illinois Wesleyan University she earned triple degrees in art history, literature and writing, and comparative religions. She did public relations for the Air Force Sergeants' Association, worked as a technical editor for the Bureau of the Census and IBM. She shifted to an academic career in the mid 80s, and taught art and art history in New Zealand and Australia.

Since 2000, Gay has been a visiting assistant professor and lecturer in art history and Australia History at Eastern Kentucky University.  She was awarded the prestigious EKU Roark Lecture Award in 2015, presenting a community and university lecture on African-American artists following the Diaspora to the New World, and she received a substantial research stipend in the university's College of Arts and Sciences for her research. 

She and her husband live on a Revolutionary War Land Grant property (102 acres) and stone house (1790) on the US National Historic Register, a Kentucky Landmark, and a Bluegrass Landmark Property that they restored. They enjoy their genteel southern living, along with their sheep, horses, and a "guard" Llama (Gertie).