My ring story: thanking God every day for my friends at The Citadel

Cadet Rachael Schewack

By Cadet Rachael Shewack, Biology Major, Second Battalion Staff, Vocalist

Everyone is excited about the day seniors receive their hard-earned Citadel rings for different reasons. For some, Ring Day marks the continuation of a legacy of family members who attended The Citadel. For others, it is a milestone in their military careers. My story is different. Mine is filled with some ups and some downs, and even a few heartaches. However, in the end, it is a worthwhile journey to land that band of gold.

All my life, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I always felt that I had something to prove and that I had to be the best. I never had too many close friends growing up and to this day have extremely strained relationships with my family. This obviously led to quite a few self worth issues and by my junior year of high school, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I was without God and without love.

I heard about The Citadel and something drew me to it. I decided to graduate high school a year early and dive into The Citadel experience. I had absolutely no idea the journey I was about to take.

Rachael Shewack (far left) on Recognition Day 2015
Rachael Shewack (far left) on Recognition Day 2016

I became someone here−this was the place where I found the courage to stand up for myself against the injustices done to me in the past. I learned that mental illness does not make me lesser, nor does it deter me from making lasting friendships with people.

Rachel with her boyfriend Elijah
Rachel with her boyfriend Elijah

I also met the man of my dreams here who I plan to marry once we graduate (and yes, he is a cadet as well). I have let my personality shine here and have figured out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Most importantly though, I found God here. God entered my life and introduced me to people who have changed my life forever. I know now that He had a plan for me from the moment I took my first breath, and upon reflection, I believe The Citadel was one of the first choices He made for me.

Everyone comes here for his or her own reasons. Some may be selfish, others selfless. I truly believe that God has put each one of us here for a reason.

This bastion of antiquity is difficult, but I can say without a doubt that there is no one else in the world with whom I would have wanted to experience this journey, than my fellow cadets. I thank God every day for placing me with this amazing group of people at just the right time in my life.

Congratulations Class of 2019!