Jimmy Carter’s legacy at Georgia Southwestern State University

His leadership qualities are evident and are forever cemented in the schools history as his legacy lives on in the next generation.
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 4:23 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Before the White House and national notoriety, a peanut farmer turned president from the Peach State was once a student at Georgia Southwestern College, now known as Georgia Southwestern State University. His leadership qualities are evident and are forever cemented in the schools history as his legacy lives on in the next generation.

Before being known as President Jimmy Carter, at Georgia Southwestern State University, the peanut farmer was known as Jimmy from Plains. In 1942, when the school was called Georgia Southwestern College, they knew Carter would be special. He was chosen alongside three fellow freshman for their leadership skills, and asked to etch his name in wet cement in the drive-way of the administration building, and again in 2017, this time as a former president. Now those signatures sit here in the front of the campus in what’s called the Presidential Plaza.

”From the moment you drive on to campus, you feel and see President Carter,” said University President, Dr. Neal Weaver. “His influence on this campus is remarkable and it serves as such a great reminder that our students can do anything. I wish I could talk to people the way that he talks to people. It’s really fascinating and makes you feel like he really is taking this moment to share with something that you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life.”

Junior, Lauren Shepherd, is a part of the Jimmy Carter Leadership program since she first set foot on the campus. From day on, she’s walked in President Carter’s footsteps.

He’s left such a legacy. I would not be the person or student, or leader I am now if it wasn’t for the things I learned or opportunities I’ve had here.”, said Shepherd. “I actually met my boss through the program and his daughter coming in the program.”

The program is really founded and based on teaching leadership from his perspective,” said Dr. Weaver.

Shepherd’s biggest take away from it is understanding servant leadership. Although she never got a chance to meet President Jimmy Carter, she did meet his wife during one of those trips to their hometown.

“We’ve been able to go out to plains and do food distributions, stuff on campus, being able to meet donors, stuff like that,” said Shepherd. “Just being associated with him in general. I’m very honored.”

There are several buildings on the campus named after members of the carter family. The University’s President said they are sad to hear Jimmy Carter has gone into end of life hospice care but over emphasize how proud they are to be a part of his legacy.