How did I get here?
Kathryn Christmas, who now serves as the regimental commander of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, grew up in Easley, South Carolina, on 11 acres of land. Growing up in a small town with limited distractions meant spending a lot of time with her family. Both of her parents were Air Force officers, and Christmas was influenced by a structured family life and a Baptist upbringing. She grew up with a respect for others and a strong moral character, and from an early age, she knew that the military is where she belongs. In high school, Christmas joined the Civil Air Patrol to prepare herself for the future. After receiving a four-year ROTC Air Force scholarship, Christmas realized the number of opportunities that were available at The Citadel. While in high school, she participated in Inside the Gates: Pre-Knob Overnight, a program that allows prospective cadets to spend the night in the barracks. She loved the camaraderie that she saw in just that one night, and the experience sealed her decision to commit to The Citadel.
The first year at The Citadel was hard for Christmas. But she saw her peers right beside her, and she knew she was not alone. She remained motivated because everyone was going through the same thing. Christmas also stayed active on campus. She was part of the rugby team as a freshman and sophomore and Baptist Collegiate Ministries. The friendships she made and the mentorship she received helped her through the hard times.
“Anybody can be somebody. You could be horrible in academics in high school, you could be somebody that didn’t exercise at all. And then you get here – this place changes you for the better.”
Christmas’s hard work and dedication earned her the rank of regimental commander. She stood out because of her physical fitness, high GPA, drive and leadership ability. She considers her impact on cadets to be one of her biggest accomplishments. Leadership is not about the rank for Christmas, it is about how many people she can impact. She mentions the very fine line to walk between, “I’m being very hard on you and I don’t care, versus I’m being very hard on you but I care and I want to help. It’s really hard to walk, but I think I found it and what made me stand out.”
After graduation, Christmas plans to get married. It only seems fitting that the couple is getting married at Summerall Chapel on campus. They are both mechanical engineer majors at The Citadel and both have pilot slots for the Air Force. Everything fell into place from there. Christmas and her fiancé will be going to pilot training in Columbus, Mississippi, soon after their wedding. The couple has already filled out a form to get placed together, hopefully flying fighter jets.
Christmas says The Citadel helped her come out of her shell. She may not have received the same amount of leadership opportunities or met as many influential people at a different college. The Citadel is a big family to Christmas. She thought throughout the years she would focus on herself, be her own person and earn her degree. But that was not the case. She knows the relationships she made over the last four years will last her a lifetime.
When it comes to giving advice to incoming cadets, Christmas says, “Anybody can be somebody. You could be horrible in academics in high school, you could be somebody that didn’t exercise at all. And then you get here – this place changes you for the better. You can become somebody. You can change yourself once you get here. Knob year allows you to do that. It sets you up, breaks you down, and lets you grow back so much better than you were. I came in as a nobody, but I became somebody. Anybody can do that. If you come in here, you can be anybody.”