A knob's life: One day at a time
Freshmen year at The Citadel. One day at a time. One step at a time.
That’s the mantra every knob should adopt as they embark on their Citadel experience, Commandant of Cadets Col. Greg Stone told more than 700 freshmen on Monday.
A day later, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, president of The Citadel, told the class that knob year is a challenge like no other they will experience.
The Class of 2011 reported to campus for academic orientation on Aug. 11. On Aug. 13, military training got under way for the 657 men and 53 women. The remainder of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets reports Aug. 19 and classes begin Aug. 22.
The Citadel seeks to provide the best qualities of a military and disciplined environment to support the growth and development of character, physical fitness, and moral and ethical principles, thereby preparing students to meet the requirements of citizens and especially of leaders. From the first year, with the Fourth Class System, through the senior year, the military environment requires additional duties and responsibilities not normally found on a college campus.
The military environment at The Citadel also attempts to draw out and cultivate such values as truth, honor, integrity, and courage. Qualities of proper behavior and etiquette are stressed, and excellence in military bearing and appearance is taught. “The Citadel experience” serves as a focal point for our institutional philosophy on leader development and sets the context for what we do to produce principled leaders.
Stone, standing at the podium inside the mess hall Monday afternoon told the group of freshmen to mentally prepare themselves for the physical, academic and military challenges that await them in their Citadel experience.
“You are going to be challenged here every day, every minute of every day. No doubt about it,” he said. “It is going to be the hardest thing you have ever done. It is also going to be the best thing you have ever done.”
Being homesick will be a given, he said. Thoughts of quitting will arise.
“But don’t forget why you came here,” Stone said. “Don’t give away your integrity; it is linked to your honor. Keep your sense of humor and commit to being here.”
By the time the freshmen class met Rosa on Tuesday morning, their hair had been cut and the first day of military indoctrination was behind them.
"Freshman year is like juggling," he said.
First, you have to learn to balance sleeping, shining and military drill. Then, when classes start, you have to juggle academic responsibilities too.
Rosa, like Stone, encouraged the knobs to set goals and aspire to be the best class the institution has yet to see. It is the largest freshmen class to enter The Citadel in 30 years.
Rosa said Citadel knobs face a touch challenge, but they can succeed. And if they succeed at The Citadel, they can exceed no matter where they go or what they do later in life.
"Thirty-eight years ago I was sitting where you're sitting," said Rosa, a 1973 graduate. On top of his academic and military duties, Rosa also had athletic responsibilities as a quarterback on the Bulldog football team.
Rosa challenged the class to capitalize on the opportunity they have to get a unique education in a unique environment where service and leadership are stressed as part of The Citadel mission of achieving excellence while developing principled leaders for all walks of life.
He challenged the class to use their Citadel experience to learn about and develop positive leadership traits and to think about the kind of leader they aspire to be.
"Very few people in this country your age are making these kinds of decisions,” he said. “Thank you for taking the challenge."
- Cadet Tara Woodside, the 2007-2008 regimental public affairs officer, contributed to this report.