news-category: National Interest

Gardner-Webb Associate Professor Reflects on Life and Legacy of Rosalynn Carter

September 18, 2023. Atlanta,. GA. The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism at The Carter Center Photo by Michael A. Schwarz/The Carter Center
Dr. Kortni Alston Lemon, right, participated in The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism at The Carter Center meeting in September 2023. Photo by Michael A. Schwarz/The Carter Center

Dr. Kortni Alston Lemon Serves on Advisory Board for the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Photo from The Carter Center

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Today, people all over the world are remembering the life of former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, who passed away on Nov. 19. Gardner-Webb Associate Professor of Journalism and Communication Dr. Kortni Alston Lemon also reflected on her special relationship with Carter. Lemon, chair of the Gardner-Webb University Department of Communication, Art and Design, serves on the advisory board for the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

Because of her ties to the Carter Center, Lemon was asked to discuss the first lady’s life and legacy on “A Closer Look with Rose Scott,” a program that aired from 1 to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20, on Atlanta’s NPR station, 90.1 WABE, FM.

“I’m heartbroken over the loss of our former first lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter,” Lemon shared before the program. “Mrs. Carter is a pioneer in mental health. She is the greatest inspiration in my life. It is an honor to continue to serve her mission in mental health journalism.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Lemon was also interviewed by reporter Jennifer L. Roberts of Charlotte’s Spectrum News Channel. The story is available here.

Lemon also noted that Gardner-Webb has another interesting association with the Carter Center. GWU President Dr. William M. Downs worked as a Research Fellow at the Carter Center from 1990-91 while in graduate school at Emory University. Downs provided analysis on democratization movements for the Carter Center’s African Governance Program.  

Lemon was appointed to the advisory board in 2021. When Lemon was invited to speak in 2019 at the Carter Center about trauma and reporting, Mrs. Carter was in the front row listening to her presentation.

Dr. Kortni Alston Lemon led a Q&A with the incoming
senior associate director of The Rosalynn Carter
Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism at an
event in September. 
Photo by Michael A. Schwarz/The Carter Center

Last summer, Lemon was asked to discuss Carter’s legacy at the Carter Center Weekend. “The speaking engagement was later compiled for a birthday video celebrating Mrs. Carter’s 96th Birthday just a few months ago,” she noted. (The video is available here.) Lemon can be seen at 1:30.

Additionally, a few weeks ago, the Department of Communication, Art, and Design hosted a 2022-2023 Carter Center Fellow, Dr. Marla Broadfoot, to share her mental health project with students.

“As a happiness scholar with a focus on workplace well-being, one of my favorite quotes from Mrs. Carter is, ‘Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place,’” Lemon observed. “She has indeed made the world a better place for us all. Mrs. Carter’s ethics came from her small-town roots in Plains, Georgia. Her religious faith shaped her values and her priorities to serve.”

Carter led by example with her founding of the Mental Health Program at the Carter Center and the Rosalynn Institute for Caregivers. She started programs to cultivate awareness, reduce stigma, and improve policies for mental health and caregivers.

Lemon concluded, “Mrs. Carter was solutions-oriented when someone came to her with a problem, she utilized her platform as a first lady to solve it. Even while traveling, she always brought experts and asked them questions. Mrs. Carter was perceived as a reserved and private person, she was extraordinarily perceptive, smart, and had a quick wit.”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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