A conversation with Georgia’s First Lady

Author: Cal Powell

UGA graduate Brian Kemp was sworn in as Georgia’s 83rd governor in January. Kemp’s wife, Marty, is a 1990 FACS grad, and her father, the late state representative Bob Argo, was a longtime friend of the college. Here, Marty answers a few questions about her time at FACS and her vision for the state.

Who were your mentors or favorite professors during your time in what was then the College of Home Economics? What were some important things you learned here?

My advisor, Dr. Sweaney, was wonderful. She encouraged me and kept me on track for graduation. Her door was always open for students to get advice and plan for the future. One of the biggest things that I learned from her was perseverance. Even when the classes were tough, Dr. Sweaney encouraged you to keep working hard and reach your goals.

Your father was directly involved in the establishment of our college’s Legislative Aide Internship program in 1983. We’re curious if he ever encouraged you to pursue a degree in our college.

My father definitely encouraged me to pursue a degree in what was then the College of Home Economics. The school always felt very welcoming to me, and my dad encouraged me to follow my passions.

What advice did he give you, and why did you decide on a degree in consumer economics?

My dad was my biggest role model. The most important things he taught me was through his integrity — he led by example. Working in government and having his own business, he always challenged me to work hard to make changes and fix the things that I saw were wrong. I knew a degree in consumer economics would equip me to do just that. My degree prepared me not only to work with our family business after graduation but also far beyond, even into my current role as First Lady.

We’d like to hear more about your experience with 4-H. What about the organization do you most appreciate?

4-H was so beneficial for our family. With all the work it took to show lambs, 4-H helped teach our girls responsibility and discipline. It also encouraged them to meet new people across the state. Even though the girls are no longer showing lambs, we still make the trip to the Georgia National Fair each year to see our good friends from the 4-H program in the barns.

In the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, we obviously place an emphasis on family resilience. Why is family such an important part of your story, and what are your hopes for all Georgia families?

Family is the most important thing. In our family, we do everything as a team and support one another. Just like any other family, we’ve gone through our good times and our bad, and no matter what, we have stuck together and remained Kemp strong. You definitely need resilience in politics!

It is a great time to be a Georgian, and our state is thriving. We are going to work hard for all of Georgia’s families, and my hopes are that everyone in our state is stronger, safer, and more prosperous because of it.

Consumer economics and financial literacy are important life skills. Do you have specific ideas to strengthen these skills for all Georgians?

These are important life skills for everyone to know and practice — whether it is saving for a rainy day or to send your children to college. My goal, as well as Brian’s, is to lead by example. Governor Deal did a great job building up our state’s rainy day fund. We are grateful to have inherited a strong financial foundation, and we look forward to strengthening it even further.