Like many of today’s graduates, Mario Marin was the first in his family to go to college. Reared in Los Angeles as one of five children of a divorced mom, young Mario decided to enroll at Mt. San Antonio College, despite a poor performance record in high school and not having a clue what to do in life.
Little did he know that his introductory speech class would serve as the launching pad for his life’s career. At the urging of Professor Ron Reel, Mario tried out for the Mt. SAC Forensics Team and won a place on this nationally ranked squad with an impressive speech on, of all topics, bullfighting. His “gift for gab” took him around the country competing with the team, while working part time and taking a full load of classes at Mt. SAC.
Mario graduated from Mt. SAC in 1990 and transferred to UC Santa Barbara, where he earned a political science degree. Door after door of opportunity seemed to swing open for the young graduate. He won the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University and went on to earn a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research in New York City. Upon graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he became a Presidential Management Intern, working for Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala in the Clinton Administration, followed by a brief stint as a staff member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.
After working in the nation’s capital for four years, Mr. Marin returned home to become the Senior Budget and Policy Analyst in the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordon in 1998. He later served in Mayor James Hahn’s administration, where he became the city’s Executive Director for Economic Development.
Today, Mr. Marin works for a private corporation, but continues to stay active in public service. Among his involvements, he created LA’s BEST Friends, a group of young professionals who raise money and provide enrichment activities for over 20,000 youth through the organization’s nationally recognized after school program.
Mr. Marin says he attributes his commitment to needs of underserved areas to his personal experiences at Mt. SAC and UC Santa Barbara. “My college experience was the ticket, the key to my success,” he says. “I needed a second chance in life, and I got it from Mt. SAC.” One way Mr. Marin is giving back to his alma mater is by serving on the Mt. SAC Alumni Association Advisory Council, which enlists the support and involvement of fellow Mounties.
For his accomplishments and dedication to the quality of life of others, Mt. SAC is proud to salute Mario Marin as one of our 2006 Distinguished Alumni of the Year on the occasion of its 60th Anniversary.