Step Up & Step Out
Welcome New Members
SPOTLIGHT-Out of the Killing Fields and into the Land of the Free
You have probably seen her making her 3rd trip to the buffet at conferences or leading the Cupid Shuffle at hospitality events. Or maybe you graduated with her from clerk school and aided in pranking Trey Allen for a week. You may know of her but, what do you know about her? Tola Sun Mueller’s journey to the States began before she was born as her parents fled the Communist rule and suppressed land of Cambodia. Due to her father's aid with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, his life was sought after by the Khmer Rouge. Her parents had to quickly disperse into the jungle, leaving behind family (7 children who died from starvation or murder and one surviving infant daughter) and belongings. They had to bypass landmines, dead bodies, and rancid water to find solace in a refugee camp in Thailand. About a year later in 1980, she was born and 10 months following that, she and her family received an expedited sponsorship to the United States.
Her parents fought to preserve what they could of their seemingly lost culture and, therefore, she started kindergarten without the ability to read, write or speak English. She was instilled with a fortitude to persevere and succeed so, not only did she become fluent in English, but she also overcame much racism in a small, southern town in South Carolina. She went on to become captain of the cheerleading squad, play varsity basketball, president of numerous clubs, worked full time, lived on her own her senior year and was Valedictorian with a full ride to college. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC with honors in 4 years, while raising two small children with her then husband.
In 2015, she took a leap of faith and separated from an abusive marriage and moved out with her 4 kids. This new beginning opened the doors to who she was meant to be. She opened her own dance studio at that time (which no longer exists) but, still teaches private lessons for West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing/Lindy, Blues, Latin, Hip Hop, and wedding choreographies. Her other side hustles include working at a restaurant, coaching baseball, and modeling.
She became the City Clerk for the City of Saluda in July of 2016. As a City Clerk Tola enjoys being a mediator and go between for the citizens or Saluda and the governing body. It is through community partnerships like these that the City of Saluda is able to grow and evolve. Tola currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Program & Education committee, Chair of the Theme & Hospitality Committee, Legislative Committee, Scholarship committee, and the Nominating Committee. She wears many hats, and is a vibrant force in the NCAMC. For Clerks who are new to the “Clerking Game” Tola encourages all to open yourself to learn on the job, utilize your Clerk World resources, and possess the ability to adapt and be humble. A true Clerk is always the driving force for success amongst his/her colleagues and municipality.
In 2018, she met the true love of her life and they married in 2019, after she purchased her first home on her own. They reside happily in the beautiful mountains of Hendersonville with their 4 kids, 2 bulldogs and a home centered around God.
Then, after 2 arduous years, she became an official citizen of the United States in 2020!