Class of 2019 graduation rewind

Long Gray Line

An atmosphere of jubilation percolated across campus in the final days of the 2018-19 academic year, with several event-filled days dedicated to celebrating the achievements of The Citadel Class of 2019.

Senior cadets enjoying their last parade
Senior cadets enjoying their last parade

One of the most anticipated events: the Long Gray Line military dress parade, marking the departure of senior members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets (SCCC).

Richard Snyder accepts command of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets May 3, 2019

During the parade, the Class of 2020 Regimental Commander, Cadet Col. Richard Snyder, accepted the ceremonial sword from Cadet Col. Sarah Zorn. Zorn graduated after leading the SCCC’s 2,400 cadets as the first woman in the top ranking position. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and was among the approximately 35% of the senior cadets who became U.S. military officers in all branches of service, just prior to accepting their diplomas.

2nd Lt. Sarah Zorn The Citadel May 3 2019
2nd Lt. Sarah Zorn The Citadel May 3 2019

Approximately 500 cadets and 450 Citadel Graduate College (CGC) students crossed the stage during two different ceremonies in McAllister Field House as their family and friends cheered.

Audience members celebrating as their cadet's name is announced
Audience members celebrating as their cadet’s name is announced

Graduates accepted their diploma from Citadel alumnus Gen. Glenn W. Walters, USMC (Ret.), who was officiating as president for the first time.

Gen. Glenn Walters, USMC (Ret.) Citadel president presents diploma to Cadet Matthew Wilder, second highest ranking Army ROTC cadet in the U.S.

Included in the processions were members of The Citadel’s inaugural class of nursing students. Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees were presented to one cadet and 20 evening undergraduate men and women.

Citadel evening program nursing graduates move their tassels indicating they officially graduated

And, because The Citadel is a family tradition for many, alumni from the Corps’ and CGC are invited to present diplomas to their graduating family members each May. In 2019, there were 58 SCCC legacy graduates and 21 from CGC programs.

CGC graduates listened to the U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Robert Wilkie, who spoke about the “obligation of service to our great nation.” Remember what you are passionate about, and remember that all people have a spirit capable of compassion, sacrifice and endurance,” Wilkie said.

Veterans Administration Secretary Robert Wilkie addressing Citadel Graduate College graduates

Words to remember were spoken to cadets by Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Jr., USMC, the commander of U.S. Central Command. But it was Zorn, the cadet who’d spent the year representing a “first” for the SCCC, who ironically got in the final words, having earned the right to deliver the traditional “last cadet in line” speech after four years of being last alphabetically.

Zorn used social media metaphors in a speech that had the Corps laughing, but feeling nostalgic in the end.

Cadet Col. Sarah Zorn delivers the traditional “last cadet in line” speech because her name starts with a “Z”

Soon we will drive through Lesesne Gate our final time as cadets. Our relationship status will change from “it’s complicated” to “long distance.” We will hold tight the relationships that matter most, the ones with our classmates, our brothers and sisters. Today we walk out of this room, these gates, this place, as Citadel men and women, and I wouldn’t want to share that relationship status with anyone else. Cadet Col. Sarah Zorn, Regimental Commander, The Citadel Class of 2019

Watch a recap of the SCCC graduation ceremony below.

Congratulations to all 2019 graduates!

Cadets celebrating with family after Class of 2019 Long Gray Line Parade