Petra Lovetinska Seipel
Corps Grad ’00
Maj. Petra Lovetinska Seipel was born in Prague, Czech Republic. In 1992, her family boarded a plane for the first time ever and headed to America, not knowing any English. In August of ’96, Seipel made history by becoming one of the first four women to attend The Citadel, made possible in part to the “Petra Plank Holders,” a group of Citadel alumni and friends who donated money to make her Citadel experience possible. As a senior, Seipel decided to join the U.S. Marines, facing many obstacles since she was not a U.S. citizen. However, she soon became one of only five people in the history of the United States who have received their citizenship as a special Act of Congress, sharing that honor with Mother Theresa, William Penn, Winston Churchill, and Raoul Wallenberg. Her occupational specialty is Aviation Supply, and she has been involved in assignments all over the world, including a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Seipel also received a master’s in business administration with material logistics support sub-specialty from the Naval Postgraduate School in December of 2013. While serving in California, she was determined to swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco. Despite being three months pregnant, she made the swim in about 40 minutes. Seipel and her husband, Patrick, have two sons, Harley and Max.
What is your favorite memory from The Citadel?
The first day I arrived on campus. My parents had no money to pay for my tuition, and because I was not a U.S. citizen at the time, I did not qualify for student aid. It was the donations from the "Petra Plank Holders" that allowed me to go to The Citadel. When I was finally standing on the checkered quad, it was hard to believe that my dream of attending The Citadel was actually a reality! I could not stop smiling. I could not believe that I was there! It really was a dream come true. And in some moments, I was afraid I was going to wake up and it would be all gone!
What about your time at The Citadel had the most positive impact on your career or life?
There is the personal aspect where I have experienced the kindness of others through donations that allowed me to go to The Citadel in the first place. Growing up in the Czech Republic, something like that would have been unheard of. Now that I think about it, the "Petra Plank Holders" were the predecessors of GoFundMe!
From the professional standpoint, being at The Citadel influenced my decision to become a Marine. Not only did I have upper-class cadets who were top leaders who had Marine scholarships, the MECEPs that attended The Citadel at the time were all great Marines—academically strong, physically fit, and mature. If I was going to be on a team, I wanted to be on a team with them. And so I changed from Army ROTC to Marine ROTC my junior year and after graduation I attended OCS and received my commission. I have been a Marine for over 15 years now!