How did I get here?
Cyrus Mendez is a senior at The Citadel, with a major in Intelligence and Security Studies and a minor in Criminology. He is a Cadre Platoon Leader in the Corps of Cadets and is the Summerall Guard Commander.
Mendez grew up in Los Angeles, California, later moving to Tampa, Florida with his family. In high school, he was a member of the Army JROTC program, which secured him the army scholarship that he now holds.
The Citadel came onto Mendez’s radar during his sophomore year of high school when one of his senior friends committed to the college. A career in the military or law enforcement was always the plan, so Mendez was interested in this type of education. He applied to several military colleges and academies when the time came.
Once the acceptance letters started flowing in, Mendez began receiving scholarship offers. Although he received a full ride at another institution, he ultimately committed to The Citadel with a three-year Army scholarship. Growing up, Mendez’s parents taught him not to take handouts, to earn what you get. He took the harder path because he wanted to earn the full ride and not accept a handout.
Prepared for any challenge, Mendez was determined to figure out how to pay for the remaining year of college. However, it worked out in the end because he received an extra year for his Army scholarship and worked to earn money to cover extra expenses.
Mendez came to campus for the first time for The Citadel Success Institute (CSI). CSI is a month-long program that allows students to get familiar with The Citadel, while also preparing them academically and physically before Matriculation Day. The program supported Mendez’s transition because he knew little of what he was getting into at The Citadel. Nonetheless, his first year was a challenge that nothing could prepare him for.
Regardless of the challenges he faced during his knob year, Mendez built a solid foundation that served him at The Citadel. He was prepared to take on extra responsibility after his knob year and join an organization or club. His first Sergeant already discussed Summerall Guards with him, explaining the process and how prestigious it is. Mendez thought that might be something he would want to be part of when the time comes.
When Mendez was eligible to join the Summerall Guards, he successfully passed the recruitment phase. This consists of a two-month training process with a culmination of cuts that are dependent on physical training, drill and personal appearance. After two months, the junior class is selected. This consists of 61 cadets. In that 61 is the silent drill platoon. Out of the 61, 51 cadets will perform, with 10 alternates.
The Summerall Guards perform at sporting events and other activities, with some travel included. Their practice is dependent on what performances they have coming up. Some notable performances have been at Disney, the Azalea Festival and on USS Yorktown’s flight deck.
The Summerall Guards taught Mendez to never give up. The team dynamic motivates Mendez to push himself to the max and lean on those beside him. This was uncharted territory, as he was used to working through things alone. Switching his dynamic has positively influenced his life. Mendez now welcomes and embraces the support given by those around him.
After graduation, Mendez will enter the infantry branch of the army as a second lieutenant. If he decides to get out of the military, he plans to go into a three-letter agency or law enforcement.