Like so many others, this week I am remembering Rosalynn Carter, a woman who used her position to advocate for the health and well-being of so many. Her legacy is vast, and she will be remembered for her myriad successes in improving the physical and mental health of people around the world.

I was extremely fortunate to meet Mrs. Carter when I was director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at Emory University from 1996-99 (now the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). At that time, we were still a relatively new institute offering the first Ph.D. program in women’s studies in the U.S.

Jimmy Carter was (and still is) Associated Faculty with Emory University and the Carter Center was (and continues to be) an active partner with the university. Mrs. Carter reached out to our burgeoning Institute of Women’s Studies to find ways to promote both our institute and our students. She was a remarkable ally in the ongoing struggle for women’s rights.

Among the many initiatives Mrs. Carter and I worked on together were annual invitations to powerful women who were making a difference in world politics. In my first year working with Mrs. Carter, we invited Jocelyn Elders, the Surgeon General of the U.S. from 1993-94, to campus for the annual Rosalynn Carter Lecture in Women’s Studies. In our second year, we hosted Janet Reno, who served as the first woman U.S. Attorney General from 1993-2001, and in my final year as director of the Institute, we hosted Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State from 1997-2001.

These visits were the highlight of our annual calendar of events, beginning with each dignitary visiting with classrooms and students, giving a public lecture, and ending with a reception and dinner. It was certainly heady for me, an academic who spent more time in the realm of ideas than practicalities, to be able to meet and converse with women who were in the process of changing the world.

These visits were even more life-changing for our students. These young women were somewhat awe-struck but also pragmatic about learning about the lives and struggles of these successful women, gleaning life lessons and strategies for success. All three of these remarkable women completely engaged in speaking with students—in fact, Janet Reno had to be dragged out of several student meetings in order to keep her schedule. And Madeleine Albright stayed after her public lecture until every single person wanting an autograph or picture was satisfied.

Our annual Rosalynn Carter lectures were successful, but Mrs. Carter herself was also steadfastly interested in our students. She hosted regular luncheons at the Carter Center, inviting eight to 10 students at a time to come for a couple of hours and talk about whatever topics might arise. Mrs. Carter was frank and honest in sharing her own life experiences growing up in the segregated South, campaigning with her husband, and taking on her own projects, including advocating for mental health and women’s health around the world. She asked probing questions of our students and helped them shape their ideas and ideals. She was down-to-earth and yet always seemed so regal.

Mrs. Carter will be remembered as one of our most remarkable First Ladies, one who continued to work for justice and parity throughout her long life. I am lucky that I had the opportunity to get to know her just a little bit as a person. The Rosalynn Carter I knew was gentle, caring, fiercely compassionate, and just a little mischievous. She always had a twinkle in her eye, and she always asked pointed questions. She challenged me and my students to be proactive in our own lives and in advocating for change in the world.

This week, like so many others, I am honoring Rosalynn Carter, who truly lived a life worth honoring.

QOSHE - Remembering Rosalynn Carter - Robyn Fivush Ph.d
menu_open
Columnists Actual . Favourites . Archive
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Remembering Rosalynn Carter

23 0
28.11.2023

Like so many others, this week I am remembering Rosalynn Carter, a woman who used her position to advocate for the health and well-being of so many. Her legacy is vast, and she will be remembered for her myriad successes in improving the physical and mental health of people around the world.

I was extremely fortunate to meet Mrs. Carter when I was director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at Emory University from 1996-99 (now the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). At that time, we were still a relatively new institute offering the first Ph.D. program in women’s studies in the U.S.

Jimmy Carter was (and still is) Associated Faculty with Emory University and the Carter Center was (and continues to be) an active partner with the university. Mrs. Carter reached out to our burgeoning Institute of Women’s Studies to find ways to promote both our institute and our students. She was a remarkable ally in........

© Psychology Today


Get it on Google Play