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ROTC cadets on a ropes course.

The Bonds of the Surfrider Battalion

Mark ’89 and Julie ’90 Flower support UC Santa Barbara cadets

UC Santa Barbara’s U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program is home to the Surfrider Battalion, where Mark ’89 and Julie ’90 Flower fell in love during their Army ROTC years. Army ROTC bonds its participants tightly through intensive leadership training. It shaped the Flowers’ personal and professional lives, and in return, they have given back by naming UC Santa Barbara Army ROTC as a beneficiary in their estate plans.

Army ROTC provides educational opportunities by combining leadership and management theory with hands-on experience. A demanding and academically rigorous program, UC Santa Barbara Army ROTC is nationally recognized as a top unit. The program began in 1947, when all incoming freshmen and sophomores were required to become cadets. In 1962, compulsory enrollment ended and the voluntary Cadet Corps began. The Surfrider Battalion’s mission is to recruit and retain quality cadets and develop them physically, mentally and emotionally into officers worthy of leading our nation’s soldiers and commanding the army of the future.

“We feel deeply connected to ROTC,” said Mark and Julie. “The lessons we learned — assessing situations, determining the mission, focusing on operations, and handling logistics — apply to all situations and helped lead us to success.”

Mark, who was born in the Bay Area and grew up in Michigan, learned about ROTC scholarships when looking into West Point. He applied and was selected as the recipient of an ROTC scholarship, which allowed him to attend any school with an Army ROTC program. He promptly chose UC Santa Barbara. Julie, whose father attended West Point, discovered the program two years later as a junior after a military science course piqued her interest.

Mark and Julie share many memories of their time on campus, including meals at Pizza Bob’s in Isla Vista after field training. Their wedding proposal took place at the local Beachside Café while they were still students. After graduation, they moved to Hawaii, where Mark served on active duty.

In 1993, the Flowers moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Mark eventually became a wealth advisor and served on a number of nonprofit boards. Julie attended Airborne school, served in the Army Reserve in Oakland, and spent 15 years as a flight attendant for United Airlines. The couple have three children: Max, Jojo, and Samantha ’17, who also attended UC Santa Barbara and is the mother of their first grandchild.

“We were so excited that Sam chose the university that brought us together and gave us so many wonderful memories,” said Mark.

The Flowers’ planned gift will support UC Santa Barbara in two ways. It will create a scholarship endowment that will help provide financial assistance for ROTC participants. Separately, it will also provide flexible support for campus. This is a foresighted decision that trusts UC Santa Barbara leadership to respond to needs and opportunities as they arise, a nimbleness that helps our campus retain its standing as a top public university.

“By investing in the Department of Military Science and Army ROTC program, the Flowers help our cadets devote their time and energy to their studies and training. Their gift is a powerful encouragement. We are grateful for supportive alumni like Mark and Julie, who go above and beyond to support our program and help our cadets achieve success,” said Patricia Dent of the Department of Military Science.