My Ring Story: Remember your “why”

The Citadel Photo

Meet Jerry Eugene Higgins III, Class of 2022

Jerry Higgins is a cadet-athlete from Cleveland, Ohio, who is majoring in Biology. He is a basketball player and has received gold stars for academic achievement. After graduation Higgins plans to attend medical school and become a physician.

Q. What is engraved on the inside of your ring and what is its significance?

A. I put two phrases inside my ring. The first is “Remember Your Why.” That will be a constant reminder to strive for greatness in everything I do. Your “why” is the reason you get out of bed in the morning and do all that you do. Your “why” is what you believe you are meant to do here. Some of us know our “why.” Some of us do not. And, for some of us it changes over the course of a lifetime. Knowing your purpose is crucial because it gives you direction. My “why” is focused on my family and the people close to me that have made me the man I am today; I truly don’t know where I would be without them.

The second engraving is “God’s Speed.” This will remind me that things will happen when they are meant to occur. Like being in the wonderful place right now of getting my band of gold. Through the journey of life, having God by my side eases my worries because I know In the end I will be alright.

Q. Who inspired you to begin your journey here at The Citadel?

A. My father has definitely inspired me to not only make the choice to come here, but to push through the hard times to success. When deciding to attend as a cadet-athlete, I was skeptical about whether I could handle sports plus the military requirements, on top of academics. I did my best to set an example of how an athlete at The Citadel should balance academics, athletics and our military requirements – all of them – like everyone else.

Left to right: Me, my father, Jerry Higgins Jr., my brother Cameron, my stepmother Svetlana, and my sister Sasha, in July when we all attended my brother’s preschool graduation.

My father assured me that he raised me to be able to endure any environment, and this was very true. His strength powers me through every day!

Q. Do you feel that you will have any special obligations now that you wear the ring?

A. Yes. Many. The ring represents everyone that has come before my class and that will come after. The same principles that I learned here will be with me as I wear the ring.

For me, wearing the ring is also showing appreciation for the people who were here in the Corps of Cadets before me. I know there have been many African American cadets that have attended this college that have paved the way for minorities to be accepted here.

Additionally, I think that it’s important that people realize that our ring isn’t your typical class ring. The ring bonds everyone that has successfully come through the gates of this school and represents sacrifices they made to be here.

Q. What are three specific things The Citadel taught you?

A. 1. Be grateful for everything. 2. Struggle is necessary for growth. 3. The importance of accountability.

Cadets Jerry Higgins and Douglas Karam, accompanied by Dr. John Weinstein, Biology, deploy an experiment to measure how face masks, rubber gloves and hand wipes decompose in the salt marsh behind Inouye Hall on Thursday, October 14, 2021.  Credit: Cameron Pollack / The Citadel
Cadet Jerry Higgins III in the marsh near The Citadel campus, setting up a biology research project to measure the environmental impacts of discarded facemasks, gloves and anti-bacterial wipes in coastal areas.

The Citadel ring, known as The Band of Gold, symbolizes more than just a cadet’s time spent as a member of The South Carolina Corps of Cadets or the time in the classroom. It symbolizes the military college’s core values of honor, duty, and respect; the same values Citadel cadets take with them to positions of leadership and military service around the world after they earn the ring and graduate.