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Harvard Rejection Prompts Student to Attend UCF, Become State Legislator

When Amber Mariano opened her application letter from Harvard in her senior year of high school, she cried – not tears of joy, but tears of rejection.

It had been her goal to go to law school – Harvard, in particular, that she worked so hard for – and then eventually run for political office after starting a family.

But when life handed her lemons, she made lemonade and forged a path to become the youngest person elected to Florida’s House of Representatives at 21 years old.

Mariano, a senior, enrolled at the University of Central Florida as a political science student, joined the Student Government Association and searched for internships that would satisfy her craving to be on the front lines of the legislative system. She landed a spot in UCF’s Legislative Scholar Internship program to work with Florida House of Representatives member Rene Plasencia. But there, she found that being an intern wasn’t enough – she decided she was ready for office.

Last November, Mariano, a registered Republican, won the election for House District 36 in Pasco County where she’s from. She ran a successful campaign despite raising less money than her opponent. She campaigned door-to-door in the county to garner support, all while juggling a full-time course load at UCF in Orlando an hour and a half away from Pasco County. With the support and inspiration of her family – particularly her dad who is a Pasco County county commissioner – she achieved her goal of becoming an elected official much younger than she, or anyone else, expected.

Mariano’s story, in her own words, is featured in Cosmopolitan. See here [1] for the full story.