The Citadel

The Military College of South Carolina

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Amanda Orson

Corps Grad ’03

Amanda OrsonI am originally from New Jersey and chose The Citadel over both VMI and a congressional nomination to the Naval Academy, largely thanks to the recruiting efforts of Coach Huddleston (and The Citadel’s proximity to the beach). As a cadet I ran cross country, track, and held leadership positions throughout; Regimental Clerk, 1st BN SGM, and 1st BN Commander.

After graduation I taught myself basic front-end web development, blended the leadership education acquired at The Citadel, and found my niche in startups and digital marketing. I’m now building an ad agency as the Chief Digital Officer for Journal Multimedia, an advisor to several startups, and together with my classmates, Will Murray and Frank Llaneza, serve as Class Co-chair for 2003. I live in Connecticut, but still miss good barbecue and biscuits and gravy terribly.

What about your time at The Citadel had the most positive impact on your career or life?
The network of friends that have carried over into my adult life, by far, has had the most positive impact. It’s been nearly 13 years since graduation and I probably talk to someone from The Citadel two or more times a week. And I don’t live in the South – which probably makes that stat a little more notable than usual.

Just this past December I was in Bangkok, Thailand, on business and had an opportunity to have dinner with Joel Johnson and Wittaya Innakool, both ’03 classmates. It was wonderful to catch up, see them both again, and pick up right where we left off 12 or more years ago.

You will come away from the school with more lasting relationships than you know – and you’ll be surprised how they endure (and even strengthen) regardless of your diverging careers, your locations, or your demanding lives.

How do you think your experience at The Citadel got you to where you are now?
The Citadel prides itself on being a leadership laboratory, and the further removed I am from the school (chronologically), the more I appreciate having had many difficult lessons early in my life as a cadet. The Citadel provides a number of opportunities to lead and be led, not just through rank, and I encourage all cadets to learn what it means to be a good follower and how to lead a group of peers. In reflection, I probably failed at least as often as I succeeded as a cadet leader, but I’m a better person and professional today for having learned from those mistakes.

There are also a number of intangible skills you acquire as a cadet that simply aren’t taught in conventional college classrooms and have tremendous carry over into professional life. Leadership, discipline, service to others before self, executive presence, public speaking, accountability, self-assurance, speed of decision making… and probably a dozen more ‘soft’ skills that aren’t listed on any curriculum. The magic of The Citadel experience isn’t reading case studies or hearing a Greater Issues speech, but it’s the opportunity to immediately apply those and other lessons as a cadet. All of them can be powerfully applied to your professional career after graduation, too.

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