A Capitol Pursuit

When Cadet Mecadeez Durham, ’24, was a high school student applying to The Citadel, the Dillon, South Carolina, native never envisioned herself living in a D.C. townhouse and working on Capitol Hill. But a chance conversation with a campus employee during her freshman year led Durham the Career Center, where she discovered that her academic career was not confined to Charleston.

Durham, a sophomore political science major, is one of 11 cadets who spent the 2021 fall semester participating in The Citadel in D.C., an interdisciplinary program that began in 2016. As part of the program, cadets are required to complete an internship and take a class on foreign and domestic policy.

“Because of this experience, I am better able to make decisions, organize, project and present information.”

Durham interned for Michigan Congresswoman Haley Stevens and interacted with constituents. “Because of this experience, I am better able to make decisions, organize, project and present information,” she said after her return to The Citadel.

During her time in Washington, Durham completed an Army ROTC class for her National Guard Minuteman contract as well as classes with Citadel professor Capt. Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Ph.D. Fraser-Rahim taught cadets professionalism in real-life settings, including business luncheons and bureaucratic meetings where Durham and her classmates immediately implemented what they learned.

During their stay, cadets traded their military uniforms for civilian business attire and networked with The Citadel Club of Greater Washington, D.C. Their experiences are part of the college’s strategic initiative to enhance hands-on learning and career readiness.

“By the time I left D.C.,” Durham said, “I was more self-assured. I learned who I was and what I wanted. If you really want something, you have to go get it. My grandmother worked hard to make life better for my mother, and my mother made it better for me. I worked hard in high school, and the Minuteman scholarship let me choose The Citadel. So now I’m here, and I love it.”

Help is on the Way

“We went in thinking we were going for the experience, but I was overwhelmed by the impact we actually made,” said Cadet Andy Davis, ’23. This June, Davis and a group of 22 student volunteers led by Health and Human Performance professor Dr. Sarah Imam traveled to the Mathare region of Nairobi, Kenya, where they offered health care services at a free medical camp. The trip was made possible by a generous gift from brothers David Swain, ’80, and his wife, Mary, and Dr. Chris Swain, ’81, and his wife, Debora.

“One of our patients,” said Davis, “had been infected with elephantiasis for 15 years. He let it go for so long because he couldn’t afford the treatment. We were able to diagnosis it and help him get the necessary medication.”

Patients lined up hours before the clinic opened, desperate to get a spot. There were so many people that some had to be turned away. “We just didn’t have the time or the resources to see everybody,” said Davis.

While the nursing majors practiced skills like administering injections, Davis, an exercise science major, treated wounds and worked in the lab under Imam, who was resuming the community service work she had begun last summer in the largest urban slum in Nairobi.

“By the end of the three weeks, one of my classmates was able to communicate without a translator. That was not the case for me,” said Davis, “but I did manage to learn around 30 words, mostly medical ones.” The patients didn’t speak much English but made a point of thanking The Citadel team.

“We worked hard during the week, and we saw some amazing things on the weekends. We went on a boat safari; that was my first time seeing hippos,” said Davis. The team also had an opportunity to pet an elephant and feed baby giraffes.

Participating students earned up to six credits during this study abroad trip, another way The Citadel teaches leadership by serving the global community. “Whether by providing medical care or funds for surgeries, this experience was a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to help people,” Davis said. He hopes to serve this way again before beginning medical school.

Wave After Wave

Citadel cadets happen upon opportunities everywhere, even on the tennis court. When Cadet Will Bush, ’24, arrived at a tennis practice in January, he had no idea his career was about to kick into high gear.

Bush was asked by one of his teammates to run the business side of a new enterprise. The teammate, a mechanical engineering major, had developed a nozzle attachment designed to extend the outflow of water-jet powered boats, increasing their maneuverability and safety. “We took off from there,” Bush said.

Bush applied the skills he’s been learning as a finance major to manage the financial statements. “Part of my role is cost analysis for product testing,” he said. Bush builds on his previous accounting experience and collaborates with his five partners, two of whom also play Citadel tennis.

The team entered the Baker Business Bowl competition under the name Trident Jet Nozzle. They were one of 33 teams to submit proposals, one of 10 to perform an elevator- pitch and one of five to present their full business plan in the final round of judging.

Their endeavors earned them the $10,000 first-place prize. “Our team is where it is now because of the business bowl,” Bush said. “This opportunity sparks creativity among cadets and helps a lot of people.” As the champion team, Trident Jet Nozzle advanced to the inaugural Southern Conference Entrepreneurship Challenge, a business competition between students from all 10 institutions in

the conference. “We are still a young business,” said Bush, “but we all have a huge passion for the product and are 100 percent involved.”

“Our team is where it is now because of the business bowl.”

Bush’s goal is to have the business running before he graduates. “Assuming everything goes according to plan, it would be great if our product hits the market in a year and a half

to two years,” he said. “There are liabilities to deal with and hoops to jump through.”

He looks forward to product testing on Lake Keowee this summer. “The Citadel taught me that minor details add up. That’s helped me as a student and throughout my career on the tennis court.” For Trident Jet Nozzle, the Baker Business Bowl is just the beginning.