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Olivia (Perry-Smith) McGraw

Corps Grad ’05

Olivia McGrawI am from Colorado and recently moved back to Denver after 15 years living and working around elsewhere. After The Citadel, I received a master’s in international development from the University of Bristol in England. From there I moved to Burundi, Africa, to work with a social enterprise and serve in one of the poorest countries in the world. I met my husband in California and recently became the Executive Director for a non-profit, UnbridledACTS. I am excited about once again being close to the mountains, but also work in Africa.

What about your time at The Citadel had the most positive impact on your career or life?
At the start of knob year, my cousin, Rob Graham, Class of ’01, told me that The Citadel would give back to me what I put into the school. I had the privilege of being a summer scholar and studying at Oxford and Cambridge. This prepared me for grad school overseas. Later when I lived in Africa, I ran into a problem of people lying, cheating and stealing. So I translated The Citadel honor code into the local language, printed it onto business cards and gave one to each employee. The result is that our employees started using these cards to avoid paying bribes to local police. They would simply hand over the card and say that because they worked with our organization, they could not lie, cheat or steal.

How do you think your experience at The Citadel got you to where you are now?
The Citadel is more than a stepping stone… it is a launch pad that prepares cadets for being successful in every area of life. The education taught me to be a better writer, critical thinker and confident speaker. The barracks taught me that to be a great leader, I must genuinely know the people around me. The core values of the school are guide posts for life. And the physical training taught me to look after my wellbeing. The Citadel is not just a college; it is four years of life training.

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