BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mark Marino, a 2020 Governor Livingston High School graduate, has received a full ride to the University of California Santa Barbara this fall after being awarded a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. Marino decided at the beginning of his junior year that he would independently pursue a ROTC scholarship to pay for his college tuition. A unique approach since Governor Livingston does not currently offer a JROTC program. 

“I knew that I wanted to pursue the Army in some way, but I also wanted a college education. I figured that this would be the best of both worlds,” said Marino.  In exchange for paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, participants commit to serve four years in the Military after graduation. “As a kid, I saw our service members as so much better, bigger, braver, more courageous than just a regular person. I also saw so many people getting sucked into that system of growing up in the suburbs, going to college, going to the city and coming back. It is just that kind of cycle that I don't know if I want to be a part of,” he said. 

A rubric is available for anyone interested in obtaining the scholarship. Some requirements include being in the National Honor Society as well as passing a number of AP exams. “When you look at the rubric, it is definitely possible to do because GL prepares you so well compared to the national average,” said Marino. 

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To increase his chances of obtaining the scholarship, Marino also took part in a summer program at the end of his junior year called, American Legion Boys State. Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students in the US. 

Marino was accepted into three schools that offered ROTC programs but he ultimately chose UC Santa Barbara. “I was looking at West Point for a little bit but then I was also looking at schools around here then we did a California trip. I said if I am waking up at six in the morning three days a week to run, do I want to do it in the cold New Jersey, or in beautiful California?” said Marino. “A place like Santa Barbara where people go on vacation, I get to go to school there for four years.” 

Marino ships out to UC Santa Barbara at the end of September and begins his first quarter on October 1st.  “As of right now, the guidelines that they put out are that all classes over 50 is virtual. However, the military science classes, and the ROTC program itself is all in person, because the classes are small. The labs are outside and the physical training is outside,” said Marino.  As part of the ROTC scholarship program, Marino will sign a contract with the Department of Defense and undergo commissioning into the United States Army.  Upon completing his college degree, Marino will hold the rank of Officer and will commit to serving four years in the US Army.

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