Last month, I graduated from The Citadel. Growing up in Columbia, I had always heard about The Citadel, but attending the school wasn’t even on my radar until I worked around Citadel grads and other kids who were planning to attend the school. That happened, and I ended up applying and graduating, as a direct result of 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson’s summer internship program for high school students.
My mom pushed me to apply for the internship, because she knew I wanted to be a lawyer (sometimes) and thought the experience and connections would be beneficial. After the first summer, I made the choice to go back.
The best part about the program was getting to know the other interns and the staff. I met a lot of people who were very helpful and gave me a lot of direction. Especially Solicitor Johnson. I can still hear him now: “Thomas, you know you’re going to have to cut all of that hair off of your head. You can’t go around looking like that. Thomas, you need to learn how to shine your shoes, and Thomas, where do you think you’re going with that earring, and Thomas ….”
I couldn’t understand it then. I was just a high school kid looking for a summer job. Why did I need to know all of this stuff?
Solicitor Johnson has always been in my corner to motivate me, to congratulate me and to give me a stern talk when I needed it. I know I would not have made it through The Citadel without his advice and pep talks. And yes, he will drive down to Charleston to check on you; I know that for a fact. Dan Johnson instilled in me values of professionalism, honor, duty and respect, and I will forever be grateful for everything he and everyone else at the solicitor’s office have done for me and for what they are doing for dozens of young people like me every summer.
I’m living proof that summer internship programs make a difference.
Thomas Olds Jr.