“I instantly knew that this was the place for me”: Meet Coast Guard veteran student Ricardo Quintero

In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, The Citadel is featuring some of the college’s outstanding veteran students representing different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

There are more than 250 veterans currently studying at The Citadel as either undergraduate or graduate students. They can take classes as day students alongside the Corps of Cadets, evening students with other non-cadet students or online. The Citadel’s Veteran Student Success Center also offers resources to these students to ensure they have an easy transition and excel here.

Named #1 Best College for Veterans in the South for five consecutive years, the Military College of South Carolina is honored to help our nation’s heroes advance their education.

Q&A with Ricardo Quintero, Class of 2024

Ricardo Quintero is a veteran and an undergraduate student at The Citadel majoring in Computer Science with minors in Cyber Security and Spanish. In addition to being a full-time student, he is a volunteer diver at the South Carolina Aquarium and does Spanish tutoring. Quintero served for seven years in the Coast Guard and, after graduating, expects to accept a commission into the Air Force to pursue a career as a fighter pilot.

What was your time in the military like?

My time in the Coast Guard was full of challenging, but rewarding, experiences. I got to take part in drug busts off the coast of Florida and South American waters and had the amazing opportunity to attend dive school in Panama City, Florida. I met some truly incredible people along the way and learned valuable life lessons.

Did you come to The Citadel immediately after retiring? What drew you to The Citadel?

I separated from the Coast Guard in the fall of 2020 with the intent of pursuing a career in aviation. As a kid I had always dreamt of flying planes with the Air Force. So, I contacted the Air Force ROTC recruiting office at The Citadel and found out that it was still possible for me to pursue that path. I instantly knew that this was the place for me.

How did you hear about The Citadel?

I initially heard about The Citadel in a magazine many years ago which touted it as a veteran-friendly school. Since I separated from active duty here in Charleston, it was a natural choice.

What experiences from your military service have prepared you to be a better student?

The military instilled a lot of discipline and structure in my life. It has served me well at The Citadel where you are constantly challenged academically. My military experience also created a sense of community and camaraderie and highlighted the importance of volunteer service.

Are there any advantages to being a veteran at The Citadel?

I think it gives you a different perspective on college and life as a student. Personally, my view on education has changed significantly after military service. I now understand the value and importance of attending college and how that can positively impact your future.

Do you ever get to interact with cadets on campus? What are those interactions like?

Yes, last semester I was fortunate enough to do an internship with Kasee Hucks, the program manager for the Commandant’s Physical Readiness Program at The Citadel. Through that internship, I created and executed training programs for remedial cadets and assisted with many of their special athletic events. I loved the experience and have gotten to know many of them on a more personal level.

What’s your favorite thing about The Citadel as a whole?

There is a faculty and support system for veterans in place to help you succeed. People like Sally Levitt and the entire Veteran Student Success Center are all just amazing. I’m proud to be part of this program and to have the incredible opportunity to commission and to continue serving my country in the Air Force.