On Saturday, Nancy Mace became the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, a formerly all-male military college.
The Citadel reluctantly accepted Shannon Faulker as its first female student in 1995 after Faulker won a 3-year legal battle against the school. Faulker’s lawyers argued that the school was legally obligated to admit women because it was financed by the state of South Carolina. The Supreme Court agreed, saying that the school must either begin admitting women or give up its public funds.
Although Faulker dropped out soon after entering the school in 1995, her efforts made it possible for other women to enroll in The Citadel and another formerly all-male bastion, the Virginia Military Institute. The Citadel’s first-year class of 1,800 now includes 42 female cadets, and many more are expected to enroll next fall.
Although progress has been made, female cadets at The Citadel still face great animosity. Mace’s colleagues hissed at her earlier this year during a ceremony in which cadets received their class rings. While the audience did applaud when Mace stepped forward to claim her degree on Saturday, the class gave a standing ovation to the cadet who followed her.