RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Liam Iovinella is the first student ever from the Washoe County School District to receive the NROTC Marine Option Scholarship to attend the Virginia Military Institute in fall 2019.
"It's like a dream come true," Iovinella says. "I don't know how to explain it. It's an amazing feeling."
He credits his parents and brother for always supporting him.
"They've all been like my rocks," he says. "Without them I couldn't have done this."
It was his father, Pasquale, who inspired him to serve.
"My dad was part of the Italian military and at first I did it for easy credit, but when I got to be part of the program I realized it was a family team and I really found my second family there," he says.
Marine Corps Captain Rachel Baker says it's Liam's tenacity and character that set him apart.
"It's basically having that passion and the perseverence to exceed and excel in whatever it is you do and he definitely expressed that," she says.
The program is extremely competitive with only 22 of 105 applicants receiving the $180,000 scholarship.
"All that this country has done for me and given me, that's why I applied for this scholarship and that's why I want to serve my country," he says.