Photo Information

Lt. Col. Christopher Tsirlis presents his son, Christian, with the $180,000 Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship during his high school awards night in 2019.

Photo by Sgt. Michelle Reif

A Legacy of Service

31 Jul 2020 | Sgt. Michelle Reif The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Christian Tsirlis, former Lakeville South High School student and 2019 high school graduate, did not have the typical Minnesotan upbringing. Thanks to his dad’s military service, his childhood was unique, full of adventure and travel to exotic lands. While many teenagers might regret moving from town to town and school to school every few years, Christian relished the opportunity to gain new experiences and learn about new cultures. He was even inspired to become something most Americans never will, an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Christian’s father enlisted into the Marine Corps before Christian was even born. His father served in billets all across the country and overseas. Christian always maintained a positive attitude about every new place.
“Sure moving had its challenges,” said Christian. “But I was always happy to meet different people and have new experiences.”

It was during these travels that Christian began to fall in love with the Marine Corps. Growing up around men and women who were dedicated to serving their country made Christian long to be a part of something bigger than himself. While he carefully considered every branch before coming to a decision, Christian always knew that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Marine.

“I believe that the Marine Corps is the best and the most challenging,” Christian said. “I want to be do something that challenges me every single day.”

"You get to do a lot more than the average college student and every day you go home with a feeling of success and that you are a part of something bigger.” Christian Tsirlis, earner of the 2019 NROTC scholarship

Serving in the military wasn’t his only dream, however. He also knew that a college degree would set him on the right path for success. It was because of this that Christian decided to apply for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship. The $180,000 NROTC scholarship is a program that pays the cost of tuition and housing expenses for those who earn the scholarship. The students will go to the college of their choice and participate in the NROTC program while enrolled. Upon graduation, they will commission as Marine or Naval officers and serve on active duty.

Christian earned the scholarship in 2019 after a rigorous and competitive application process. He proved he was worthy of the scholarship through his academic achievements and proven leadership abilities as the captain of his school football and track teams. He also demonstrated outstanding physical fitness abilities.

He is now a sophomore studying Information Technology at the University of South Carolina.

“The ROTC program is great,” Christian said. “It keeps you in shape, physically and mentally. You get to do a lot more than the average college student and every day you go home with a feeling of success and that you are a part of something bigger.”

When asked what advice he would give to high school juniors who are considering applying for the scholarship, Christian said to apply even if you are unsure. This scholarship gives you the opportunity to develop as a leader and as a person, he said. You become part of a family.

What Christian is most looking forward to about becoming a Marine Corps officer is the opportunity to lead Marines.

For more information about the NROTC scholarship, visit