PACE — Cyla Byrd is a 17-year-old senior that signed a letter of intent to run track at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.

“The Citadel corresponds with my plans and my future,” Byrd said without hesitation.

Byrd said her first priority is to become an officer in the military. The Citadel will give her that option when she graduates. As a graduate she is eligible to enter any branch of the United States military.

Her drive to become an officer in the military is not unusual based on how she was raised. Both parents Carl and Michele Byrd retired from the Air Force.

“I picked The Citadel before I ever visited,” Byrd said.

She had already been accepted academically wants to study psychology, with a minor in the Chinese language and wants to be an occupational therapist to special needs kids in China.

The track opportunity presented itself when Coach Kiris Kut of The Citadel heard about her times in the 100, 200 and 4-by-100 meter relay.

Byrd has always played basketball and considered that her best sport. Last year as junior she ran track for the first time. She did so well that she was offered a track scholarship to the school.

“I have attended a ’pre-knob,’ it was a culture shock,” Byrd said of The Citadel event meant to give prospective students a taste of what they will experience.

Byrd’s mother said her daughter participated in four years of ROTC while at Pace High School and has always wanted to be in the military.

“I think she likes the structure and discipline of the military,” her mother said.

Byrd has one brother, Caleb, who is a senior also. He will attend the Savannah College of Art and Design.

“I want to thank God for blessing me with my family, basketball family and track family,” Byrd said. “I want to congratulate my brother for being accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design.”

Byrd then gave a special thanks to her ROTC family at Pace High School for pushing her to be the best she could be.

“Do what you love; try to become the expert in the job you get,” Byrd said to the people in attendance.