How did I get here?
Lilly Jones is a psychology major and fine arts minor at The Citadel. She is a member of the gospel choir, the fine art club and rugby team. Jones is a transfer student, originally attending Claflin University for her freshman year in Orangeburg, S.C. She quickly realized she was craving a challenge that an ordinary college experience would not give her. With the unwavering support of her parents, she transferred to The Citadel. And this year, as part of the Global Scholars Program, Jones took her education to Athens, Greece for a semester abroad.
Prior to attending The Citadel, Jones had no interest in the military lifestyle. She attended Fort Dorchester High School and was given the opportunity to join the JROTC program. She initially turned it down because of the restrictions the program had. Opting out of the JROTC program meant Jones was required to participate in P.E.
The time she spent in P.E. felt unproductive. Thus, Jones decided to give the JROTC program a shot. She quickly adjusted to the program’s demands and joined the drill team, advancing in rank as she moved along. She became the commander of the drill team and won her first competition the first time she commanded the team. Jones loved everything about the JROTC program and the drill team. She loved the community, the teamwork, the ribbons and the pride she felt wearing the uniform.
Jones’ time in the JROTC program strengthened her confidence in committing to the military lifestyle. However, she remained nervous when she stepped onto The Citadel campus for her first year. She immersed herself in academics and the military lifestyle. Obtaining rank was not a priority for Jones until she felt more comfortable at the college. By junior year, she was ready to take on more responsibility and become a recruiting sergeant. This year, Jones does not have rank because she is studying abroad.
Jones became interested in studying abroad during her first year at The Citadel. However, having never traveled abroad, she admits feeling relief when all programs were canceled due to COVID. She put the idea on the back burner until her junior year when she received advice from one of her professors. He reassured Jones that she would regret not taking this opportunity, telling stories of his experiences abroad.
Hearing about her professor’s time abroad was the extra push she needed. Jones signed up for the Global Scholars Program and will be attending the American College of Greece. The Global Scholars Program offers cadets enrolled in nearly every major at The Citadel the opportunity to spend a semester abroad. Students travel without a faculty advisor, truly immersing themselves in the culture of the country.
Senior year could not come fast enough. Jones began preparing for Greece by learning about the culture, food and best destinations. She was especially interested in the art exhibits. She quickly began to anticipate the culture, the people and the irreplaceable memories to be made.
Jones is stepping out of her comfort zone by studying abroad. She was shy and kept to herself prior to her time at The Citadel. However, cadets must depend on each other and make connections to succeed. Jones became more outgoing and spoke up when she needed help, finding friendship and support from her classmates. She does not believe another school would have brought her out of her shell and allowed her to make strong connections like The Citadel has.
Transferring to The Citadel is a decision that has changed Jones’ life. She has no regrets about the decision, urging other students that feel as though they are on the wrong path to make a change. She supports her choice by saying, “Don’t be afraid. If you have a dream, and you want to do it, do it. I had a dream, and it didn’t work out in the beginning, so I tried again and look where I am now.”