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Anthony Mariano

#132 Anthony Mariano, Student
(A.A. business management)

I’ve sailed the open seas, and been to more than 25 countries. I served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years; joined right out of high school. I was a welder-firefighter and maintenance technician on three ships, retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer before COD became my port-of-call.

Thanks to my GI benefits, my U.S. Navy retirement pay and my wife's career as an operating room nurse, we have been able to support our family as I reconstruct my civilian life to suit the business world. I never thought I’d ever go to college. But once I got to COD, I was a changed man.

At 44, I wasn’t your typical student. I bulked up on credits, swapped math stories with my two sons, and later tutored students in math and accounting. I got my share of A’s, but it’s not that I’m smarter than anyone else. For me, it’s just what I learned in the service: Stay until it’s done, and if you’re going to do it, do it right. For me, that calculates out at 100 percent.

After graduation, I plan to attend Brandman University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business management. For now, I’ll wear my veteran’s cord with pride. I look at it as a way to show other veterans that COD has a place for them when they come back. I look at it like a higher rank.