My ring story: triumphant as a cadet and as Cecilia

The Citadel Photo

Photo: Cadet Cecilia Gibson, right, with her former senior mentor, Mary Novak Karitis, Class of 2018

By Cadet Cecilia Karin Nara Song Gibson

As I head through my senior year as a member of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, I feel triumphant.

I wanted to attend college somewhere that I wouldn’t have to worry about trivial things like picking my outfits, and I wanted to make sure that I stayed relatively fit. I had originally applied to the federal military academies and hadn’t considered the possibility that I wouldn’t get in.

Cecilia with public policy class, taught by Joe Riley
Cadet Cecilia Gibson, middle left, with public policy class taught by Professor Joe Riley, former mayor of Charleston and a member of The Citadel Class of 1964.

One of my friends from Charleston dared me to apply to The Citadel. I did, and was selected to attend the scholarship pre-knob weekend. I fell in love with the military review dress parade, surprisingly. I was worried that I wouldn’t get a scholarship. Two weeks later, I got a letter saying that I had received a scholarship to attend and that was that.

Throughout my time in the Corps, one of my biggest challenges has been knowing when to be Cadet Gibson and when to be Cecilia. Other people talk about having a “switch,” where they can move from one identity to another. I don’t have that kind of on-off switch. Instead, I’ve meshed them together.

Cecilia Gibson, Jenn Pozzani, and Devin Kirscht
Cadets Cecilia Gibson, Jenn Pozzani and Devin Kirscht

I’ve grown so much since coming here. I seek advice instead of going off on my own. I used to be stubborn and thought that asking for help was a vulnerability, but now I know when and who to go to when I do need the help.

I found my best friends during my knob year because we were suffering together and we could talk to each other about what we were going through and our experiences.

The school makes you a better person in the sense of learning how to prioritize duties and manage time, as well as how you cope with stress. Those three things are essential to making it in life whether it be military or civilian.

There have been so many incredible people who have helped me achieve the success. If I had to name two, they would be Dr. Deirdre Ragan, the head of the Honors Program, and LCDR Kevin Adcock, a former TAC officer for Mike Company.

Dr. Ragan helped me academically and continued to motivate me when I was feeling down. LCDR Adcock supported me when I started questioning leadership and people who held leadership positions; he helped me understand that my mixed feelings were normal.

These two people together have helped me immensely and without their continued support and guidance, I wouldn’t be the cadet or person that I am today.

left to right Peyton Campbell (Company Executive Officer) me (Company Academic Officer) Jenn Pozzani (Bravo’s Company Commander) and Chris Shrieks (Cadre Platoon Leader)
(left to right) Cadets Peyton Campbell, company executive officer), Cecilia Gibson, company academic officer, Jenn Pozzani, Bravo’s company commander, and Chris Shrieks, cadre platoon leader posing in front of Mike Company’s letter.

So, to me, The Citadel ring signals triumph. It’s an achievement representing the things that I’ve accomplished, and the internal and external struggles I’ve overcome. It’s a symbol to myself that I’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s good to have something tangible to show that I accomplished everything I came for and wanted to do — it wasn’t in vain.

Cadet Cecilia Karin Nara Song Gibson is from Johns Creek, Georgia and is majoring in Psychology. She is serving the Corps as the academic officer for Mike Company.