Student Experience Provides Stepping Stone To Elected Position

There was no question what major Amber Mariano, ’17, would choose when she stepped onto UCF’s campus as a freshman; she’d already picked political science when was 6 years old.

But the path to becoming Florida’s youngest elected state representative takes more than a good education. And that’s where UCF also helped her excel.

“The political science major gives the necessary background information of politics, but doing internships gives you that experience you can’t teach from a textbook,” said Mariano. “Politics are all about relationships. Internships brought my degree to life.”

Mariano, a Republican, currently represents District 36, which covers parts of western Pasco County. As a student, she participated in the political science department’s Legislative Scholars Internship program, which places students with state legislative offices. She also interned for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in Washington, D.C.

Closer to home, Mariano joined UCF’s Student Government Association, which she said was her favorite part of her college experience. The time it takes to network and be elected to a position in SGA mirrors the hard work it takes to build a real career in politics, she said.

“I learned so much and met so many different people. The stakes aren’t as high, but it’s still the same atmosphere,” Mariano said.

Mariano was 21 years old when she was elected to her seat in 2016, then re-elected in 2018. She said the opportunities she seized while at UCF helped her follow her dreams, and can help current students if they have the passion to find them.

“What’s so cool about UCF is that it’s so big and there are so many opportunities,” Mariano said. “But since it’s so big you have to go after those opportunities yourself. You have to work for them.”

Now that Mariano has made history in the House of Representatives, she hopes to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming president.

“Working as a representative has been amazing. It’s a dream come true,” Mariano said. “When anyone asks me how I am I just tell them I’m living the dream.”





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