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Stories of Philanthropy

The Long Gray Line watches over its own.

In times of need, Citadel graduates have always stepped forward to support their college, their classmates, and the Corps of Cadets. Consider, for example, the case of a promising young cadet facing financial hardship. Bryan Byler

As a freshman, Cadet Bryan Byler of Salisbury, Maryland, endured all the challenges every knob faces. He may not have enjoyed it much, but he and his classmates struggled successfully through the rigors of the system.

The real trouble came the following year, when the combination of expensive out-of-state tuition and a costly divorce back home caused financial difficulty for his family. Byler completed his sophomore year with good grades, but walked away with a semester's worth of debt.

He held two jobs the following summer, waiting tables in the evenings after a full day's shift with a construction company. He got a strong taste of reality along the way, thanks in part to a week he spent living out of his truck, struggling to save every dime he earned. But it wasn't nearly enough.

Byler quickly realized that he'd have to sit out of school for the next year. "I work hard, I'm a smart kid, and I'm a good fit for The Citadel," he noted at the time, "but unfortunately, I just can't write the check to cover tuition."

When Director of Alumni Affairs Mike Rogers, '70, learned of Byler's plight, he offered to share the story with Citadel alumni via e-mail. Eason Chapman, '64, of Florence, S.C., immediately answered the call, rallying a few friends and classmates to the cause.

Within 5 days, 35 Citadel graduates and several others who believed in Byler's potential contributed $5,400 to help repay the tuition he owed, clearing the slate for Byler to return to the school in good standing.

Intent on settling his debt and reluctant to accept further charity, Byler set out to work as hard as he could during his year away from college. Thanks to some creative support and sincere commitment from Citadel staff, particularly LTC Hank Fuller, Director of Financial Aid, and Bobbin Shoaf in the Treasurer's Office, Byler had secured just enough to cover the first semester of his junior year. Scholarship support and continued hard work would cover his costs the rest of the way.

Bryan Byler presents his research

 

Byler presents his SPAC award-winning
project at The Citadel's 2009
Undergraduate
Research Conference
Upon his return to campus, Byler flourished academically, earning Gold Stars and several semesters of straight A's. A psychology major, he represented The Citadel at the Southeastern Psychological Association Convention in New Orleans this spring, where he earned an undergraduate research award for his project, "Testing a Developmental Model of Heroism."

Back at school, Byler also met Citadel graduates Dan Neason, '97, and Caldwell Worley, '96, who recognized Byler's persistence and hired him for a summer internship with their IT consulting firm, MODUS21. Upon growing tired of filing and routine intern duties, Byler saw an opportunity to carve out a niche for himself in the company as a government contract analyst.

Continuing this internship through his senior year, Byler started working on a $25 million government consulting contract. As a result, he's managed to convert this initiative into a lucrative full time job offer after he graduates, magna cum laude, this May. He eventually hopes to pursue a law degree to better qualify himself as a contract analyst.

As the college chapter of Byler's success story comes to a close, the story just begins for future cadets facing similar funding challenges. Inspired by their gratifying efforts to support a promising cadet, Eason Chapman and his classmates have established the Class of 1964 Scholarship Fund, which includes a provision to assist cadets like Bryan Byler to continue their Citadel education in the event of extreme financial hardships.

In anticipation of its 45th reunion this fall, the Class of 1964 has ambitious plans to bring the value of this endowed fund up to $800,000. To support this effort or learn more about funding cadet scholarships, please contact The Citadel Foundation at (800) 233-1842 or visit www.citadel.edu/tcf.

In this era of economic uncertainty, increasing numbers of hardworking families are facing financial hardship. The cadets they hope to send to The Citadel are no less bright or promising. Thanks to the passion and support of many committed Citadel alumni and friends, the Long Gray Line will long continue its forward march.

 




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