Torrey Pines students receive Marine scholarships

TPHS grads

TPHS graduates Michael Cava and Alec Howell with their scholarships presented by Marines (center), and with their coaches (far right and left).

(Staff photo)

Torrey Pines High School graduates Alec Howell and Michael Cava each received Marine Corps ROTC scholarships, worth about $200,000 and $225,000 respectively.

Howell and Cava, who are best friends, were both varsity wrestlers. Howell plans to attend the University of San Diego to study finance, and Cava will attend the University of Southern California and study international relations.

Cava said he learned he had been selected for the scholarship last November when he returned home from a wrestling tournament. He added that he looks forward to becoming “the best version of myself and serving my country.”

“I feel indebted to my country,” Cava said. “My family is all Filipino immigrants and I feel a responsibility to give back to the country that gave my family everything.”

TPHS graduates Michael Cava and Alec Howell with their Marine Corps ROTC scholarships.
(Staff photo)

Howell said he found out he would be receiving the scholarship in February, when his recruiter called him during his math class to deliver the news. He missed the early selection board by three points, according to a Marine Corps news release. He won the scholarship months later after applying again for the main board.

“I started freaking out, I called my parents, family, friends and everything,” he said. “I was super happy, I felt really blessed.”

Howell added that he is looking forward to being “part of something bigger than yourself.”

To be considered for the scholarship, both students started training in spring of their junior year. They completed interviews, physical fitness tests, essays and other aspects of the applications process. A 12-person selection board comprised of active duty Marine Officers then reviewed and selected the applicants.

About 1,300 applicants across the U.S. every year apply for the scholarship, according to the Marine Corps. Applicants need a score of at least 22 on the ACT, 1,000 on the SAT or 74 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. They also have to score above 200 on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test, which includes a max repetition of pull-ups or pushups, crunches, and a three-mile run. The acceptance rate for these scholarships is about 5%.

When Howell and Cava reach their junior years in university, they will attend a 10-week officer candidate school in Quantico, Virginia, and will be on pace to be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps after they graduate college.