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Georgia Southwestern’s Carter Leadership Program students meet former President Jimmy Carter

AMERICUS —Twenty Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) students in the inaugural class of the President Jimmy Carter Leadership Program had the opportunity to visit Plains on Sept. 13 and speak with the program’s namesake, GSW alumnus and former President Jimmy Carter.

During their first year in the program, the students, known as Mix Scholars, are focusing on individual growth and development, working to understand their own beliefs and values. In their private meeting at Plains High School, Carter explained the importance of choosing one’s principles and values early in life and how his time at Plains High School helped him do just that.

“Plains was an outstanding high school because they had a teacher named Miss Julia Coleman, who taught me one of the best things I’ve ever learned in my life,” said Carter. “She used to tell us, ‘You must accommodate changing times, but cling to principles that never change.’” Carter went on to share some of his own unchanging principles, including always telling the truth and knowing your values and sticking to them.

Elli Lucas, a freshman softball player from Winter Garden, Fla., said it was an honor to meet Carter for the first time. “He was such a blessing to speak with. Everything he said had a lesson within that I will never forget. He made it clear how much he cared for the future of this country as well as the importance of making memories and learning from past failures. After having a tough week, he really changed my perspective on things and gave me information that I will refer to the rest of my life.”

The students had the opportunity to ask the former president questions about his life, presidency, service and leadership. After their meeting, they also toured the Plains High School museum and visitor center, explored Downtown Plains, and learned more about Carter’s early life at the Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm.

Lynda Lee Purvis, director of the program, noted this was a very unique day in the lives of these twenty students. “Not only did they learn more about President Carter’s life and accomplishments, they were able to speak with him in person — the man whose lifetime of leadership in education, politics, and community service inspired the Program’s founding principles.”