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Summer Spotlight: Zachary Pendolino of Men’s Water Polo

George Washington Athletics
Rising GW sophomore and SHP grad Zach Pendolino is exploring politics as an intern on Capitol Hill. 

No two days are alike at Rep. Jackie Speier's office on Capitol Hill, Zachary Pendolino learned quickly.

As a summer intern assisting the California congresswoman, the rising sophomore with GW men's water polo is happy to do his part.

Sometimes, Pendolino's shift is spent fielding phone calls and sorting mail. Other days, he's sitting in on issue briefings and writing memos. Just last weekend, he led a tour of the Capitol for a group that included his fifth-grade teacher.

"Just being a part of the process is honestly the coolest thing," said Pendolino, who tallied seven goals and three assists as a first-year last fall for the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference champions.

This is the kind of summer Pendolino envisioned when he made the decision to become a Colonial.

The Burlingame, Calif., native is younger than most of his peers in Speier's office, but he earned the opportunity to work behind the scenes in the U.S. House of Representatives under the woman who represents his hometown thanks to his diligence and enthusiasm during the application process last spring.
"It's an awesome opportunity," Pendolino said. "I'm studying political science, and I've always had a fascination with politics. This is exactly what I want to be doing right now."
Following the spring semester, Pendolino enjoyed three weeks at home before reporting to Capitol Hill for the first time on June 3. He's relished the chance to be a part of the team, tackling a myriad of assignments.
Pendolino starts most days combing through headlines looking for stories that should be included in the news clips distributed officewide. The exercise has helped him become more informed, particularly on the issues that are most important to Speier, such as national defense and the environment.
Every phone call, letter and email he logs is a chance to hear more about the issues that his neighbors back in California care about.
"We're like the voice between the constituents and the rest of the office," Pendolino said.
One highlight was the day Pendolino arrived early to hold a seat for a staffer at a committee hearing about the National Defense Authorization Act and then spent most of his shift shuttling drafts of proposed amendments to the military spending bill from Speier's office to the meeting.
The House briefings have offered the most eye-opening experiences. The staffers can't make every information session, so the interns are charged with taking notes and turning them into memos for quick reference when related legislation comes up for vote.
Pendolino has so far sat in on a pair of them. The first focused on renewable energy storage solutions, forcing him to get a quick education about a complex topic. The second explored a bipartisan bill funding global women's education, which included remarks from Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, who rose from catastrophic conditions in Kenya to become a leading voice for education in her home country.
"It was really powerful just hearing her story," Pendolino said.
Back at GW, Pendolino has found time to continue his water polo training, mixing swim sets at the outdoor pool on the Mount Vernon Campus with lifting sessions in the Smith Center.
Pendolino plans to work with Speier's team through Aug. 16, just a couple days before he's due to report for the start of preseason training.
Halfway through the internship, he's confident he's making the most of his summer break.   
"I love being here," Pendolino said. "There's a reason why I came back and why I'm staying here this summer. I hope to continue working in politics in the future, and being in D.C. just provides every opportunity for that."

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