Ever since its establishment in 1842, The Citadel has been a male dominated operation. The school flipped upside down in 1995 when a federal court ruling allowed its admissions to accept its first female cadet, which was followed by death threats and sexist slurs. Fast forward 24 years to a slowly growing women’s minority movement, and we end up here. Last year in March, a small-town girl, triple-black belt and Citadel student Sarah Zorn became the school’s first female regimental commander. The regimental commander, for those who think the Citadel is a complete mystery, is the highest ranking cadet officer in command of the entire student Corps.
The response of Zorn becoming regimental commander was far from tranquil. Citadel student, Sergeant Jeremy Ward said “students were either really for it, or really against it. Personally I saw a lot of people that weren’t really for it.” Naturally, change is difficult to see as reality, but Zorn has quickly gained her deserved respect. In an interview with CBS This Morning Zorn unexpectedly said, “I didn’t want to do it because I wanted to be this ‘shatterer of glass ceilings’ or things like that. I wanted to provide the best opportunity to leave the corps better for tomorrow.” Zorn is focused on her duties, and not necessarily devoted to pleasing feminists. This statement in and of itself displays Zorn’s exceptional commitment to her leadership position, as she did not want the position so she could ‘be the first.’ A woman who can break glass ceilings without demanding an emphasis on her accomplishment is how a real boss woman is being defined.
The commander also said, “I always try to keep in the back of my mind that it’s not about what I am, it’s about what I do.” Since her new title, she has dealt with juggling her regimental commander responsibilities, school work and being a part of the Citadel’s biggest historical event. When asked if people doubt Commander Zorn, Sgt.Ward said, “I believe that there are some people that do doubt her ability, but I don’t think that’s a product of The Citadel. I think that’s more of a personal problem people have, and it normally comes from a place of ignorance.” Not only has the glass ceiling been completely shattered, but women at the Citadel are excelling astronomically. Studies show that women cadets have a higher grade point average and are more likely to graduate. This is a huge milestone because the Citadel is now switching the colloquial insult of ‘ladies’, a word slurred at boys who could not do push-ups fast enough, to its original respected reference to a regimental commander of over 2,000 cadets. Being a triple-black belt gives a new meaning to breaking glass ceilings.