Donna Rosa

Donna Rosa

Q: As the wife of Lt. Gen. John Rosa, president of The Citadel, how involved are you with the cadets?

A: Very much so. I feel it is very important to interact with as many of the cadets as I possibly can. I know how hard it can be for them being away from home. I tell them they can think of me as their on-campus mom.

Q: Give us a couple examples of the types of events you've organized for them.

A: Not long after arriving here, I was asked by a group of the female cadets if I would be interested in meeting with them to discuss various topics. I was delighted to do so, and this get-together is one that we still hold today. It has been a huge success and continues to grow each year.

Each semester, John and I host a parade and reception at our home for the top academic students and their families as a way for them to know how much we appreciate their hard work.

And last but not least, each January when the freshmen (knobs) return from the holidays, we treat them to an all-day "Cheeseburger in Paradise" party complete with karaoke, parrots and sharks, and of course, cheeseburgers with all the fixins. A cadet's knob year is very tough, and John and I feel this gives them an opportunity to have a bit of fun and to get to know us and the senior staff in a much more relaxed setting.

Q: You are passionate about your charity work and are actively involved with the Alzheimer's Foundation and the American Cancer Society, among others. Why are these causes important to you?

A: I have seen firsthand how devastating the effects of cancer and Alzheimer's can be on a family. I have fought melanoma since 1996. My mother died of lung cancer in 1993, and my daddy died of Alzheimer's last year. I feel it is important to support and give back in any way I can. In October, my sister and I worked with the Alzheimer's Association and formed a team to help walk and raise awareness of this horrible disease. I am proud to say our team raised almost $10,000 in Daddy's memory. Presently, I am working with Hollings Cancer Center on a couple of melanoma fundraiser/awareness events for spring/summer.

Q: How did having melanoma change your life?

A: It taught me the true meaning of trusting God not only with my present, but also with my future, whatever that may hold. I learned how much I dearly love my family and friends who helped me through surgeries and chemos. Having melanoma also showed me how blessed I am each day of my life to be alive and well.

Q: What advice would you give others who may be battling the disease?

A: Always get a second opinion. Unfortunately, we did not the first time. Haven't made that mistake since.

Remember, a statistic is just a number, nothing more.

Your disease does not define who you are.

And above all, never, ever give up!

Q: Do you really nap while riding on the back of your husband's Harley?

A: Yes, I really do. I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere! Only problem I have with napping on the Harley is if I try to roll over.

Q: What about your life are you most grateful for?

A: This is a difficult question for me as I am so grateful for everything in my life. I feel I have grown through both the good things that happen to me each day, but I have also grown in so many ways through the hard times. However, without the support of my wonderful husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law and my sister, I could not have gotten to where I am today. They are truly my lifeline.

Q: What do you wish you could change?

A: If I could change anything, I would like another day with my family members who have died. My older sister, Sandra, died in 1983, my mother died in 1993 and my daddy died last year.

Q: You host a number of events in your beautiful home on The Citadel's campus. Any decorating tips you could share?

A: My No. 1 tip is keep your family and friends on your good side and be very nice to them all year! It is much too hard decorating a big house for the holidays by yourself!

Q: You met your husband while he was a cadet at The Citadel. Tell us about that meeting.

A: John and I met his sophomore year. A mutual Citadel friend brought him over to my apartment supposedly to "borrow my vacuum." Mmm ... They never did get the vacuum, but I did get the good looking quarterback!

Q: What are the best and worst parts of being a grandma?

A: Everything about being a grandma is the best! The worst part is realizing I am not so young anymore. Matty and Mikey can run circles around me.