Citadel junior Dakota Durham with integrity and a generous spirit serves her community and motivates others to do the same. Dakota has managed to strike a healthy balance between academics, rigorous physical training, military responsibilities in our Corps of Cadets, and in our Naval ROTC program. She is passionate about equal opportunity and everyone reaching their potential. Dakota is a regular contributor to Title I schools and supports special events for those with disabilities. As a member of The Citadel Gospel Choir, she participates in vital relationship building between our school and the diverse historically divided Charleston community. Her advocacy extends to our local food bank and collaboration with farms in the region’s land conservancy program. Befitting her nature, she did not surrender to the restrictions of the pandemic. She became our most dedicated participant in an innovative, student-led “Story Time with The Citadel” outreach for elementary school distribution as well as a program for sewing masks for the local food bank. In every setting, she radiates a light affirming both those being served and her teammates who learn by serving. Dakota’s grit, adaptability, and resilience throughout her years at The Citadel are evident and inspiring.
My whole life I have been surrounded by people selflessly serving others. My dad was a career Army officer and my mom was a computer teacher who later became a school librarian. My mom always gave the children 100%. Every lesson, every project, and every interaction was met with an unwavering smile filled with zest and passion. This created a chain reaction that made the child overjoyed and excited for reading. Seeing my mom make a difference for the generations of kids she worked with has inspired me to be there for others as well. Working with a summer program for high-risk elementary students was one of my favorite volunteer experiences, but at first it was hard. I had recently returned from Officer Candidate School, but this was challenging in a whole new way. The kids were rowdy, rambunctious, and inattentive, but were also kind, funny, and had a weird way of growing on you. I did everything in my power to help them enjoy school. Whether it is environmental protection, supplying food, or encouraging kids, I know that I will always work hard to make a difference for others and encourage my peers to do the same.