An interview with Cadet Col. Kathryn Christmas

Cadet Olivia Hime with Regimental Commander Kathryn Christmas posing for a photograph on campus

Homecoming 2021 special feature

Every year around homecoming, the South Carolina Corps of Cadets Regimental Public Affairs NCO helps The Citadel family get to know that year’s regimental commander through a published interview.

Cadet Col. Kathryn Christmas (KC), the regimental commander, attends the college on a U.S. Air Force contract. She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Christmas answered a series of questions from Olivia Hime (OH), regimental public affairs NCO, who shares the results below.

OH: Where are you from? How has growing up there impacted how you view the world around you?

KC: I am from Easley, South Carolina. I grew up in a very small social bubble and because of that, I had a small understanding of what the world had to offer and how other people live and think. Everyone at the school I attended believed the same things. The Citadel is expanding my world view by helping me experience different cultures and meet new people.

OH: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

KC: My favorite thing to do in my free time is to participate in sports or go hiking. Table Rock trail in upstate South Carolina is my favorite trail. I played volleyball for seven years prior to matriculating to The Citadel, so I love the camaraderie of intramural sports.

OH: What is your favorite quote?

KC: My favorite quote is “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy.” – General Norman Schwarzkopf. My dad escorted General Schwarzkopf around Europe during his time in the Air Force.

OH: What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far?

KC: My greatest accomplishment thus far has been either achieving the rank of Regimental Commander or being selected for a pilot slot by Air Force ROTC. I have wanted to be a pilot ever since middle school and took flying lessons in high school. That is my dream.

OH: Why did you choose the Citadel? Has that reason changed as you’ve grown?

KC: I chose The Citadel because I had a pre-knob visit during high school. That’s when students considering The Citadel get to visit, meet cadets and professors in their academic area of interest, and spend a full day and night seeing what life is like here. My pre-knob visit convinced me that The Citadel was where I needed to be. This reason has not changed.

OH: When you matriculated, did you think you would end up leading the Corps?

KC: I did not have any idea in the slightest that I would one day become the Regimental Commander of the South Carolina Cadets. I pursued the position of regimental commander after watching those who have come before me. I wanted to make an impact on those around me.

OH: What is something that you have had to sacrifice? What have you learned from this sacrifice?

KC: Like all cadets, I have sacrificed many things others normally do in college just to be here. I have had to sacrifice my hobbies, free time, nights out with friends and sleep. This is not complaining, this is simply the truth. I have sacrificed a lot to be where I am now. I know the time I take out of my life benefits the Corps now and hopefully will continue to make an impact after the Class of 2022 graduates. The decisions I’ve made have humbled me and allowed me to see life from a different perspective.

OH: What are your goals for the Corps? Is there anything you want to change?

KC: My main goal for this year was to return the Corps and The Citadel back to normal operations after a pandemic-dominated year and a half. I am also focusing on the development of every cadet and their respective position in the Corps. I would love to change how cadets believe only the top rank holders can make a difference in the Corps. Everyone has a valuable voice and/or opinion and it deserves to be heard.

OH: What is something you will miss about The Citadel?

KC: I will miss the people and the long-lasting relationships that I have formed with them. The bonds created here are different from others because we have faced the rigors that come with the lifestyle of a cadet together. As cadets, we can always find comfort in that we can lean on each other.

OH: What is your next step after you leave The Citadel?

KC: My next step is to commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force just before graduation in May, and then to go pilot school. I plan to make the most of my time in the Air Force and to serve a full 20 years.

OH: What advice do you give to freshman, sophomores and juniors respectively?

KC: I tell freshmen to remember that they are all going through the same thing and to lean on their classmates for support. It will all be worth it. For sophomores – this is your first chance to be a leader at The Citadel whether or not you are a corporal. Succeed and fail, but make sure you learn from each instance and keep moving forward. For juniors – this is the time to learn from those around you as you work toward becoming an officer. Learn from cadet officers, and from the many other leaders on campus. Seek out a mentor and discuss what you see as successes or failures of others and the “why” behind those events. Most importantly, do your job for the betterment of others, not for yourself.

OH: If you could do it all over again, would you and why?

KC: I would absolutely do it again for many reasons. But it’s the people I’ve met and continue to meet through The Citadel that have made some of the big impressions on me. I know some will always be a part of my life. Plus, the lessons I’ve learned here are invaluable and worth experiencing knob year countless times over.

MSG Olivia Hime and Cadet Col. Kathryn Christmas pose for a portrait parade on Friday, September 17, 2021.

About MSG Olivia Hime

Hime is a Gold Star and Dean’s List cadet, who is in the Honors Program and is majoring in Biology. She is from Holly Springs, North Carolina, and will graduate a year early in May with the Class of 2022. She plans to attend medical school and to become a surgeon and is currently shadowing neurosurgeons in the Charleston area and at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Hime is the editor of AED Scalpel Reporter, and media director/community service representative for the African American Society. In addition, she is a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Preparation Hub Facilitator and a panel leader in the newly established Women’s Association on campus. Hime has participated in various research projects and earned a first place designation for her research presentation at the National Collegiate Honors Council this fall. She is also a member of SM3, a mentorship program organized by MUSC for student minorities. In her spare time, she enjoys organizing workouts with friends as a part of her fitness club, reading self-improvement books and practicing meditation.