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Post-graduation to-do list includes political office run

Political Science major Mark Solano gives himself 9 years to complete major goals

Mark Solano

Photo by: Houston Style Magazine

Mark Solano has a nine-year plan and a long to-do list.

Celebrate his 21st birthday. Check.

Graduate from the University of Houston this spring with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Check.

Run for a seat on the Pearland City Council. Check.

By his 30th birthday, Solano plans to have served both as mayor of Pearland, the Houston-area suburb where he grew up, as well as a state senator in the Texas legislature. And that is just the beginning of his political aspirations.

“When I was a little kid, I told my parents that I was going to be president one day,” said Solano. “Today, I am doing so much that they often tell me to slow down.”

Solano spent his time at the University of Houston preparing for life after college.

As a transfer student, he quickly identified the Student Government Association as the organization he wanted to join.

“I had to summon up my courage to travel to the basement of the UC and let the individuals in the SGA offices know that I was interested in participating in SGA,” said Solano. “Over the next few months, I met with SGA officers and, eventually, was confirmed by the SGA senate as the Director of External Affairs.”

Cedric K. Bandoh, University of Houston Student Body President said, “Mark is an extremely hardworking student leader that is dedicated to initiatives geared at improving the lives of his fellow students and community members.”

Solano juggled in his senior year his full-time academic responsibilities and his SGA position as a liaison between the university community, other universities, the City of Houston, Harris County, and the State of Texas.

“My job is to let government officials know that UH is the new standard of Tier One universities,” said Solano. “With our proximity to institutions, such as the Texas Medical Center, and the oil and gas industries, UH is a funnel of success for students entering the work force.”

Three assistant directors worked with Solano and, together, the team advocated on behalf of UH students on issues concerning higher education. They also assist UH administration with government and community relations matters.

In February, Solano was part of a contingent of UH students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community supporters that traveled to Austin to meet with legislators at the state Capitol. The group from UH is part of an initiative called “Invest in Texas.”  The movement is a statewide coalition of students dedicated to advocating for higher education across Texas.

“We want to ensure that any budget cuts are fair, equitable and balanced,” said Solano. “We do not want the Texas legislature to cut UH short in terms of funding.”

In addition to his role with SGA, Solano is also very active with the Houston Rotary Club, an organization that he credits for inspiring him to go to college in the first place. He is the president of Rotaract, a Rotary-sponsored service club for people ages 18 to 30.

Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. The clubs are open to people of all cultures and ethnicities and are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations.

“I first got involved with Rotary when I was in high school,” said Solano. “I graduated from Pearland High School in 2009. After graduating, I began attending San Jacinto Community College and I started the Rotary Club there. This organization has opened so many doors for me – I’ve made some truly meaningful relationships.”

When it was time for Solano to transfer from San Jacinto to a four-year university, he toured several schools throughout Texas.

“I discovered that no other schools had the student diversity that University of Houston had,” said Solano. “In addition, UH just made me feel welcomed... It was like home away from home.”

Solano’s to-do list has some other entries that he’s eager to check off as completed – winning a seat on the Pearland City Council and enrolling in graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in International Relations.

His SGA colleague, Student Body President Cedric K. Bandoh is confident Solano has what it takes to accomplish his goals.

“Mark has a bright future ahead of him,” Bandoh said. “He's intelligent, motivated, and has his heart in the right place in terms of serving his peers. If elected, I know he will continue his good work for the citizens of Pearland.”

- By Monica Byars