After rubbing elbows with elite educators at the world-famous Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and graduating cum laude, Mark Rinaldi did what only the brightest, highly sought-after college student would do. He started working for the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in its Massachusetts office.

A contract specialist, Rinaldi graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in economics and mathematical sciences in 2010, with a 3.52 GPA. Rinaldi turned down offers from Wall Street to follow his call to duty, accepting a position with the Natick Division of ACC-APG.

"I like the job," explained the contracting intern. Rinaldi's interest in working with the federal government started when he was young. His grandfather was in the U.S. Air Force and would take him to the cemetery to place American flags on the graves of veterans.

"That left a big impression," recalled Rinaldi. "My decision was rooted in a sense of duty learned through my experiences with my grandfather."

While Rinaldi was in high school, a teacher arranged a technology demonstration on various
Soldier protective gear items that also peaked his interest.

"Working with the front line of innovation is interesting to the inner geek in me," commented Rinaldi.

He left high school with a 3.95 GPA and entered a four-year program at Harvard. There, Rinaldi was active in ice hockey and sailing, with sailing being a large part of his college experience. His team finished as national runners-up during his senior year.

"My degree has been beneficial to my contracting work in analyzing cost proposals and negotiating," Rinaldi said. "My science and mathematics background helps me understand the technology associated with many contracting actions. While I may one day pursue opportunities
in the financial industry, I'm happy applying everything I learned at school to helping our troops return home safely."