My ring story: a family tradition

Colleen Riegerix (center) with brother and sister

Photo above: Cadet Colleen Riegerix (center) with her brother Andrew, ’10, and her sister Rachel, ’12.

By Cadet Colleen Riegerix

I started at The Citadel from the bottom – meaning I was the last of three siblings to attend.

My brother Andrew matriculated when I was eight. He graduated in 2010 with a degree in Civil Engineering.

I was 10 when my sister, now Dr. Rachelle Riegerix, started here. She graduated in 2012 and has since earned a Ph.D. in Toxicology.

Because of my siblings’ experiences here, my parents started me in Citadel gear early on.

Colleen Riegerix as a child visiting her brother Andrew, and sister, Rachelle, while they were cadets. while they attended The Citadel; 4th photo is a young Colleen in Citadel gear with her parents Thomas and Susan

Running around on campus each time we came to Charleston to visit, I spent my time watching parades and staring at the fancy uniforms, especially Col. Leo Mercado who was the Commandant of Cadets (and now a dear family friend). The cadets thought he was scary but he was like a teddy bear to me, dressed up with a lot of shiny medals.

The Citadel was fascinating to me. I knew I wanted to be a part of this place and I wanted to earn my own ring.

Colleen at The Citadel at age 10

Finally it’s my turn, and it seems to have gone by in a flash. I can’t believe I am about to receive my Band of Gold!

But as my brother taught me, the value of the ring is how a cadet defines it through hard work and determination. To me, the value of earning a Citadel ring is almost indescribable.

This may sound silly to some, but the ring represents being willing to give up the one thing that made me feel the most feminine: my hair. Now, starting with the new Knobs this year, women no longer have to cut their hair when to they arrive. But before that rule changed, for me and many in my class, cutting our hair was a defining moment of our commitment to making it at The Citadel. It was hardest part of my Knob year, but it turned out to be the best thing I’ve done to help myself grow as a person.

Cadet Colleen Riegerix in 2019

My ring will always remind me of the support I have from my blood brother and sister, but also of the love I have for my Citadel brothers and sisters. So, the advice I’d give to girls coming here with the goal of earning their rings?

Be open to being friends with everyone, girls and guys. My male friends here are incredibly supportive. I love them all, and my bonds with them are as strong as the bonds I have with my female friends. Being a cadet at The Citadel may be one of the biggest challenges you’ll endure, but if you count on your brothers and sisters here, and make sure they can count on you, by the time you earn your ring it will benefit you in more ways that can be described.

Cadet Colleen Riegerix, Citadel Class of 2020

Oh, and the newest members of our family, Andrew’s son Grant and Rachel’s daughter Rosie, will be attending this fine institution someday too!

Cadet Colleen Riegerix is from St. Louis, Missouri and is majoring in Exercise Science. She served in the Corps as a Human Affairs Officer.