Three times the charm for one family at The Citadel
By Cadet James McManus
From left: GianCarlo, Alan and Miguel Parrado Photographer: James McManus
Sitting in my room in Second Battalion overlooking Summerall Field, my computer pinged as I received yet another email. I opened it and immediately burst out laughing as a flood of memories washed over me. The email contained pictures of my classmates and me at the Honors Program Orientation Dinner, the night before our Matriculation Day back in 2012 (a sleepless night for most). The main reason I was laughing, besides the fact that we all looked so young, was because the person standing next to me in the picture was Miguel Parrado who, unbeknownst to me at the time, would become my good friend and roommate.
I remember sitting next to Miguel at the table during dinner that night and taking solace in the fact that I would know at least one person in my company the next day. I also distinctly remember Miguel’s parents, Cristina and Dr. Parrado, (who retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army) being very friendly. They helped ease many of the concerns my parents and I had about what would be my first day at The Citadel. Their extensive knowledge was due in part because their oldest son, Alan, had just finished his knob (freshman) year and because Dr. Parrado is a member of The Citadel Class of 1979. The tally then was two Parrado Citadel men. But now there are three Parrado brothers attending at the same time: Miguel (junior), Alan (senior), and GianCarlo (knob). The Parrado family is certainly a “Citadel family”.
Even though Dr. Parrado is a Citadel alumnus, the Parrados never thought all three of their sons would enroll in the school. “The oldest two were focused on The Citadel for years, despite the fact they have such different personalities,” Cristina said, recalling a class reunion when the boys were about four and five years old, “they were infatuated with the whole thing.” Dr. Parrado added that “our third didn’t realize he wanted to attend until about two years ago when he started learning more about the academic opportunities and the benefits of military-style training.”
By now, the Parrado parents are old pros at understanding the cadet experience. “Our older son went through his first year relying on the leadership in his battalion,” Cristina said, “and each subsequent brother knew that he would have to carve his own experience.” The couple also realized that the challenges of The Citadel extend well beyond just the first year, especially when balancing academic demands with the duties assigned to cadets who achieve rank. Many parents of cadets see great changes in their sons and daughters throughout the experience. In contrast, the Parrados said because their sons were raised in a military family, they grew up knowing exactly what their responsibilities were, making them ready for The Citadel culture. “Other than craving to eat and sleep more when they come home, there haven’t been many differences,” Dr. Parrado said. He did point out that their sons have benefitted greatly from the entire experience, as “they have been exposed to students that think like they do: those that are focused, who strive to excel, and who stand ready to serve.”
As they have been able to follow their sons (and their sons’ classmates) through the experience, they have some advice for current and future knobs. Cristina cautioned, “If anyone walks in the first day thinking they know it all and are all they can be, they have already limited their potential for future learning. “Humility is strength, not a weakness.” Dr. Parrado agreed and elaborated that this humility helps cement a commitment to and understanding of the concept of servant leadership. “From the first day a young person decides to be a part of The Citadel, that person must realize that individual gain is second to the gain of the Corps as a whole.”
Although the Parrado parents stay busy in their community of Columbus, Ga., they love coming to Charleston to enjoy the city and the beach, visit old friends, and of course, spend time with their sons and their sons’ classmates. They especially look forward to Parents Weekend. “We highly recommend the Academic Open Houses, which are a great opportunity to meet the wonderful faculty in your cadet’s areas of study. We truly enjoy how The Citadel encourages special dates for the families of cadets to come and see all of their hard work.”
While two of their sons, Miguel and GianCarlo, graduate in 2016 and 2018 respectively, Alan is applying to graduate school which he hopes to enter after graduation this May. He accepted his much-awaited class ring at the Ring Presentation on Parents Weekend, with every member of his family understanding fully the commitment it took to earn it.
MSG J McManus
Regimental Public Affairs NCO
South Carolina Corps of Cadets
Sierra Company, Class of 2016