Perpetual Motion

When Cadet Maddy Cardenas, ’23, was 5 years old, just big enough to serve a sand-encrusted ball, she began playing volleyball almost daily with her father in Redondo Beach, California, a small coastal city in the South Bay region of Los Angeles.

With the Pacific breeze kindling her passion for the sport, Cardenas has played on organized volleyball teams since middle school. As a high school senior, she learned of The Citadel and decided to test her game on the East Coast.

Cardenas didn’t know anyone at The Citadel but was drawn to the military environment. “The Citadel looked like somewhere that I would just fit in really well,” Cardenas said. “I was surprised at how quickly I learned the culture, mannerisms and how to handle my day-to-day life. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a short period of time.”

Juggling the demands of being a student- athlete with cadet obligations is a sporting event in itself, but Cardenas is more than up for the challenge. “My time management has gotten much better over the last couple of years,” she said. “You need to prioritize things like finding time to make sure your uniform looks good but also making sure that you’re spending enough time in the gym.”

When Cardenas isn’t playing volleyball, she is throwing javelin, shot put and discus for the track and field team. In March, she won fourth place in javelin with a toss of almost 88 feet at the Savannah State Relays. At the same time, she is honing her leadership skills in the Corps as the Alpha Company drillmaster and a recruiting officer for First Battalion. “I am constantly reminded of the reasons that I came here,” she said. “I am the oldest of 16 grandchildren, and I know that I have a bunch of younger girls looking up to me, girls who want to play volleyball and do cool things. This is something bigger than me.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a short period of time.”

Whether Cardenas is sporting a team jersey or the cadet uniform of the day, she is proof that a Citadel education runs deep. “People see that I’m a physics major and assume that I’m smart or see that I play two Division I sports and assume that I’m athletic, but my personality is something not a lot of people see,” she said. “I care a lot about my relationships with family and friends.”

Last season, Cardenas competed in 20 volleyball matches, made 24 digs and had 83 kills. Eleven of her kills—a season high—were made during the conference opener. “There are many experiences that have given me reason to stay busy and work hard to be more than I ever thought I could be,” she said.

Last November, Cardenas’s team won The Citadel’s first Southern Conference championship title in women’s team sports. Having found success on the East Coast, Cardenas carried her momentum to the Dalmatian Coast. In July, she competed with volleyball players from around the world in Croatia. The only competitor from a senior military college, Cardenas stood out for her leadership skills. “I paid attention to what the other team was doing so I could get my teammates as much information as possible. I didn’t start out as team captain, but my coaches made me captain by the end of the trip.”

Her teammates responded to her leadership, too. “It was unreal to spend such a short amount of time with people and become so close with them. There were two girls I had never met from North Carolina. We ended up hitting it off,” said Cardenas, who plans to visit her new friends. While she made connections, she also learned more about herself. “I definitely had some experiences that enhanced my perspective on life. I know I am becoming the person I want to be because I am attracting the friends I want in my life.”

During their two-week tour in Croatia, the athletes also scored time for sightseeing. “We went cliff jumping in Pula,” Cardenas said. “Afterward, we went cave swimming. With rocks surrounding us, we could look up and see the sky through a hole. The views were straight out of a movie.”

Back on campus for preseason volleyball training, Cardenas brought a new appreciation for the basics and warm-ups. “International professional teams,” she said, “are lifting differently, focusing more on fundamentals and techniques, less on power and speed. Some of the rules— and even the balls themselves— are different for international volleyball.”

With graduation around the corner, Cardenas plans to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the National Collegiate Athletic Association granted Division I athletes in response to the pandemic.

She’ll continue playing volleyball at The Citadel while working on a master’s degree. After that, she intends to play volleyball professionally overseas and anywhere else the winds may take her.

Attention to Orders


Retired Army Lt. Col. Platte Moring III brings his political science class to attention, just as he was trained to do when a senior officer is present.

The class of cadets, now standing, watches as Citadel President Gen. Glenn M. Walters, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), ’79, and Provost Sally Selden, Ph.D., walk into the room for a surprise visit.

“You’re all going to participate in something,” says Walters. “Professor Moring got an award for his long and dedicated service to our country. In a minute, I’m going to call attention to orders, and we’ll read the citation.”

The Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service is the highest award presented to a civilian by the secretary of defense. The award recognizes Moring’s work in the DOD Office of General Counsel.

“I was just flabbergasted by the whole thing,” says Moring. “I had no idea it was coming—it was a great surprise. It’s not every day you get pinned by a four-star general and the president of the college with the provost present. My class was totally impressed.”

The award citation lists some of his many achievements after retiring from the U.S. Army, including overseeing the writing of the statute that created U.S. Space Force. But it is more than just his accomplishments in the DOD that brought Moring to The Citadel.

In 2003, he was called out of reserve status to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but just before Moring was set to leave the country, then-President Bush announced the end of the war in Iraq. Moring decided to punch his ticket and continue with his plans to deploy, this time to Afghanistan. There, he was appointed commander of the Kabul compound. On his third day, he met with Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, who was in charge of security sector reform.

Moring walked into his office and saluted.

“Colonel, what’s that on your collar?” Moring remembers the general asking. Moring told him that it was the insignia of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, but Eikenberry already knew that.

“Well, no lawyer’s running my compound,” Eikenberry said.

At first Moring was insulted because he knew he was fully capable of taking charge. Then he realized that Eikenberry was suggesting that he make better use of his skills. Eikenberry immediately asked him if he would like to work on the Afghanistan constitution instead.

Moring then spent his time working with the Constitution Commission, even drafting language for the document specifying civilian control of the military — a requirement for any nation applying to join NATO. In January 2004, after months of work, he attended the country’s constitutional convention.

“I was sitting with my interpreter, and President Karzai was speaking. Suddenly, everybody stood up and then everybody sat down. I asked my interpreter what just happened, and he said, ‘We just votedfor the Afghanistan constitution.’ So it got passed. We were so proud in 2004 that we had a plan for Afghanistan. We had hope for these people and their new, democratic constitution. And then, of course, 15 years later, everything fell apart.”

However, there were bright spots in between those two key events, both for Moring and for the new nation as a whole. He taught at Kabul University, educating men and womenabout law. The women—living in a world that suddenly allowed them to attend school and be seen in public without a burka—made the biggest impression on Moring. He remembers them as quiet, always sitting together in front. On their final exams, the students wrote their names in Arabic. Moring, who could not read them, graded the students blindly. In the end, the best student in the class was a woman named Naomi, who would go on to get a master of law degree and teach international law at Herat University in western Afghanistan. He has not heard from Naomi since the country—and its constitution—fell. He can only hope she was able to get out.

These are the real-life experiences Moring brings with him to the Military College of South Carolina. These are the lessons the cadets in his class benefit from every day.

“The cadets have a sense of honor that you do not see at any other American university…”

“I think everything I’ve done to date has brought me to this point, whether it’s being a civilian lawyer, a military lawyer or teacher. I think my collective experiences have placed me here at The Citadel so that I have an opportunity to give something back to the younger folks,” he says. “The cadets have a sense of honor that you do not see at any other American university, and they’re trying to do the right thing. They do want to learn and they do want to succeed, not necessarily as military officers, but they want to become leaders. And I’m all about leadership.”

An Investment in Education

A student-run organization is turning heads in the financial community and earning the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business some well-deserved recognition.

SMIF, The Citadel’s Student-Managed Investment Fund, works like an asset management firm, giving a group of about 40 cadets and students of all majors the opportunity to manage real money in financial markets, putting theory into practice.

In March, The Citadel Foundation agreed to invest $1 million of its endowed funds with SMIF, noting that its performance has been commensurate with the S&P 500. Likewise, The Citadel Trust authorized a significant investment. In return, the students will manage these portfolios just as a professional investment firm would, providing returns to TCF and The Citadel Trust as their inaugural clients.

“It’s not Monopoly money,” said Chuck Lawless, ’94, a senior managing director at Mesirow Financial in Chicago who in his role as chair of the Investment Committee for TCF’s Board of Directors led the charge to enable the college’s finance students to manage this small portion of the foundation’s endowment. “We’re entrusting students with legitimate funds and giving them real- world experience in security analysis and portfolio management. This is flight school for our business students. They are charged with reporting their market returns to the board periodically, as they will to future real-world clients, and we will allocate those returns back to the college as part of TCF’s annual academic enhancement grant.”

The advisor to the organization is Paul Meeks, CFA, CAIA, a professor of practice in the Baker School of Business. In addition to teaching, Meeks has more than 30 years of experience as an institutional equity analyst and portfolio manager. He is best known for investing in technology stocks and appears regularly on CNBC to “talk tech.”

SMIF meets every Tuesday in Bastin Hall, where students manage funds in an environment similar to an investment firm, with access to 12 Bloomberg terminals like those used on Wall Street.

“Bloomberg terminals have software that helps business professionals analyze markettrends in real time. Most schools have only one or none at all,” said Meeks. “It is unprecedented to have 12. They’re very expensive, and each terminal has a monthly street cost of $2,000.”

With the enthusiasm generated by the recent investments, Meeks is excited about the future for SMIF.

“Our students treat this as their part-time job. What they are doing is real work,” said Meeks, who added that these infusions of cash will put The Citadelon the map among schools with student-managed investment portfolios, particularly in the Southeast. “I am a baseball fan. With the addition of the 12 Bloomberg terminals and the investments from TCF and The Citadel Trust, it’s like going from the minor leagues to the Yankees in how we compare to many other academic institutions.”

SMIF also participates in conferences with other student financial organizations across the country. Last year members traveled to the 8th Annual Student Managed Investment Fund Consortium in Chicago hosted by Indiana State University, where they placed third in performance. At the conference, they engaged with other groups to share portfolio strategies and performance details.

Cadet Carl Custer, a senior Mike Company finance major with an Army contract, learned about the organization as a freshman when one of the SMIF leaders suggested he join. Now, he serves as the vice president of compliance for SMIF and plans to pursue a master’s degree in accounting after graduation.

Trevor West is a veteran student and accounting major who has always been interested in mergers and acquisitions. He serves as the portfolio manager and hopes one day to manage his own CPA firm. And Ashlyn Howard, a veteran student who is passionate about SMIF, serves as the real estate sector head, which makes up 3% of the entire portfolio.

“Think of us as a student investment firm. What we do translates very well into the private sector. I am not even a finance major,” said Howard, who is majoring in marketing and business development. “I just love being around like-minded people and learning from someone like Professor Meeks. He isjust a wealth of knowledge and helps us tremendously as we learn how best to manage the fund.”

Conduct Becoming an Officer

The first course was as smooth as butter on freshly baked cornbread, but the dining room started to heat up when attendants laid the second course— broccoli and cheddar soup. An audible slurp or a rogue droplet could jeopardize Mission: Formal Dining. Each dinner guest paused to strategize. It wasn’t until one guest said, “This is the moment we’ve been preparing for” that relaxed laugher gave rise to soup spoons.

Leadership and etiquette instructor Chris-Ann Streeter, seated at the head of the table, watched her students dining with confidence. “Etiquette is about feeling comfortable with yourself,” said Streeter. “We want to be sure that we are being true to ourselves in character and then present that outwardly. Etiquette has always been important, but it is especially important for this generation that looks at their cell phone screens instead of communicating face to face.”

The Citadel published its first customs and courtesies guide in 1932, with four editions to follow, the last being The Art of Good Taste. Its message—that the fundamental motivation for decorous behavior is “consideration for the rights and feelings of others”—will always be in style.

Although etiquette class is no longer required, the skills it teaches are still in demand. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Tom Clark, ’85, executive director of the Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, recruited Streeter to lead The Citadel Etiquette Club. “Knowing the rules of etiquette,” said Clark, “will help cadets respond appropriately in social situations and gain self-respect, self-confidence and peer credibility. The value of etiquette and good manners to a leader cannot be overstated.”

“The value of etiquette and good manners to a leader cannot be overstated.”

Streeter has lived in and visited over 28 countries. “Learn the culture no matter where you are,” she said. “You can help people better that way.” As the wife of a Marine officer, she knows the value of interpersonal relationships and adaptability, lessons she imparts while coaching military spouses and personnel abroad.

The course Streeter tailored to Citadel cadets focused on conduct for high-stakes meetings, job interviews and dates. “When you’re in a class setting,” said Streeter, “everyone can help each other.”

On the first day of class, Streeter armed her students with a copy of her manual, Lasting Impressions, and an arsenal of thank-you cards. “There were certain things the cadets didn’t initially know about dining etiquette and thank-you cards,” she said. “Sometimes a thank- you text is not appropriate and not enough.”

Streeter channeled her expertise on social graces to provide hands-on learning experiences ranging from setting tables to social dancing. “The questions the cadets asked showed that they wanted to get into the nitty gritty of how they will behave in public during business or social settings,” she said. “They’re highly engaged.”

The program featured an assortment of guest speakers. Attire presentations from Joseph A. Banks and the Loft helped participants gauge what to wear for civilian situations, and a resume coach taught them howto shine on paper. “We have interviews because the resume can look fabulous, but employers want to meet the actual person,” said Streeter. “We’re not defined by what we do. We are defined by our character, who we are. Your personal life and work will be better done when your character is deep inside you.”

At the conclusion of the eight-week program, participants received a resume-ready certificate and were invited to a four-course dinner at the home of Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters and his wife, Gail, for a real-world opportunity to implement their newly forged skills.

Gail Walters demonstrated the art of entertaining with a warm welcome and a tour of Quarters One, allowing guests to practice polite conversation and admire artwork while instrumental music played in the background.

Political science major Cadet Keaton Spitser, one of the 12 students participating, enjoyed the sautéed vegetables and chicken. The Kentucky native registered for the course ahead of an upcoming internship, which would mark his first time visiting the nation’s capital. “The Citadel’s etiquette class helps prepare you for professional settings by teaching manners and civility,” he said. “I’ve already started recommending it to other cadets.”

When another cadet, who briefly left the table before the dessert course, forgot where to place his napkin properly, the classmate to his left covered for himby discretely sliding the napkin onto his chair. “You never want to embarrass people,” said Streeter. “When you have good morals and character, you can be a better listener, more respectful and sincere, and true to yourself and others.”

With all napkins put in place, lively conversation lingered as the guests departed. Mission: Formal Dining was a success. “I definitely saw an improvement from the first class to the last class,” Streeter said. “It’s important for all cadets and students to graduate with a little bit of etiquette protocol.”