By Ashlyn Howard, ’24
It was the phrase “Opportunity begets opportunity” that drove Cadet Sam Wilson, Class of 2025, to apply for the Killam Fellowship, which would give him the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Canada. Though he is not the first Citadel cadet to earn the Fellowship – that distinction goes to former Cadet Thomas Gomez, Class of 2021 – Wilson has the honor of being the first to study at the Royal Military College of Canada.
Founded in 1967, the Killam Fellowship is an exchange program designed to provide opportunities for undergraduate students studying in Canada and the United States. The Killam Fellowship opens doors for promising students and serves as a testament to the opportunities presented in education.
Wilson, who has taken advantage of many opportunities throughout his cadet experience, spoke to how The Citadel’s environment has prepared him for this journey.
“I chose to attend The Citadel because of how much opportunity it provides for furthering one’s education inside and outside the classroom,” stated Wilson. “The Citadel has prepared me for the Killam Fellowship by giving me a solid academic background that supported me in pursuing my interests.”
Wilson attributes his success to the support he was shown from Lauren Rule Maxwell, Ph.D., English professor and associate director of The Citadel Distinguished Scholars Program.
“She revived my interest in studying literature and communication during my first year, and she has been my most prominent advocate to go out and pursue the things that I am interested in,” said Wilson. “Dr. Maxwell pushed me to apply for the Fellowship, and her Advanced Composition course allowed me to use my proposal papers as assignments, which definitely gave me an advantage.”
After having Wilson in her classroom, Maxwell was happy to help with his applications for the Killam Fellowship and enjoyed hearing from him about his studies abroad.
“Sam is such an exceptional cadet — he exceeds expectations and is outstanding in every area. He is able to raise the level of classroom discussion experience because he is so invested in the learning experience. He told me that he has talked with some of his professors at the Royal Military College, and that they have suggested that he read other books that are related to their discussions on history or international peace keeping. He is someone who is not merely interested in just checking the box,” said Maxwell. “Instead, he really wants to learn as much as he can and expand his knowledge of how things are interconnected and how things work in the world.”
Wilson is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a double major in English and History, coupled with double minors in International Criminal Justice and War Studies. Originally from Carlisle, Iowa, Wilson chose to attend The Citadel because of the opportunities it provides inside and outside the classroom. Wilson is also involved in the Army ROTC program at The Citadel.
“Programs like the Distinguished Scholars Program and the Honors Program have made it possible for me to conduct and present research for projects ranging from the Literary History of Horror Stories to my current Comparative Analysis of Military schools discipline structures,” says Wilson.
As an Army contract, Wilson has had unique moments through the ROTC program — whether it be repelling from helicopters for Air Assault School or obtaining his Combat Diver Qualification, he credits the ROTC program for the head start in his military career. While Wilson’s list of accolades is already impressive, he still had a tough application process to go through for the Killam Fellowship.
The selection process for the fellowship is dependent on the applicant’s program of study, personal statement, record of academic achievement and letters of recommendations. Each application is ranked by an independent committee, made up of representatives from participating universities or personnel from the Fulbright Canada Foundation.
“I was a little nervous,” Wilson said about learning he was accepted as a Killam Fellow. “Junior year at The Citadel is a big one for cadets. Leaving for the first semester of the year made me afraid that I would miss out on some pivotal time at The Citadel. It didn’t help that I was going to do something that no one had done with people I had never met before. However, after being here for a couple of months, I am definitely happy with my decision. It has been so much fun to learn more about the Canadian Armed Forces, how different their leadership styles are and to meet all other international students. Further, I feel a great deal of pride being able to represent The Citadel at the international level.”
About the Killam Fellowship
Founded in 1967, the Killam Fellowship is an exchange program that provides opportunities for undergraduate students studying in Canada and the United States. It is funded through the generous contribution of Mrs. Dorothy J. Killam, who wanted to honor the memory and achievements of her husband, Izaak Killam. Students who are chosen for the fellowship spend one semester or a full academic year in the other country, allowing themselves to be fully immersed in the county’s culture. For more information, visit the website.
Ashlyn Howard is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Development with a minor in English. She is a Distinguished Scholar and a veteran day student, also serving as a paralegal in the Army Reserve.