CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Hundreds of Citadel cadets participated in the weekly parade Friday.
This week, they had a theme. They were honoring two of the college's diversity milestones. The 2016-2016 academic year is the 20th anniversary of women in the South Carolina Corps of cadets and 50th anniversary of African American cadets.
"I think it's a great achievement, a great milestone not just for the Citadel for but everyone around the nation," Citadel cadet Devin Taylor said. "It's a great accomplishment that shows anyone can do this."
"Diversity is everywhere," Citadel cadet Alexandria Guild said. "There are cadets in all different types of positions, rank-wise, academia, we're all over doing everything."
The first to break the ground did not have the easiest transition. Charles Foster was the first African American cadet to join the Citadel in 1966. He graduated in 1970. Nancy Mace was the first female cadet to enter the Citadel in 1996 and graduate. She completed her degree in 2000.
"I cannot thank enough the first African Americans to have confidence in us to come and break new ground. The women that first attended, too. They took on tough jobs," Citadel provost Connie Book said. Book is also the dean of the college.
"I'm glad that they paved the way for me to be here," Guild said.
The paths they created serve as an inspiration for current and future cadets
"It shows that the country, as a whole, is moving forward and breaking boundaries," Taylor said.
"I'm just excited that we can all hold whatever rank we want, it seems like," Guild said. "We have to earn it and we're held to the same standards, but I think we're doing a lot of good stuff here."
Those paths have helped staff advance as well, including Book. She is the first ever female provost at the Citadel.
"When we have 'isms' in this world like racism and sexism, thinking about breaking new ground in that. It is a real privilege to be a first," Book said.
The Citadel will continue to honor and celebrate these milestones through the remainder of the academic year.
"We are a better institution today because of our African American students and our female cadets," Book said.
For a full list of events scheduled to honor the Citadel's diversity milestones, visit this website.