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Constant work, activities led to exemplary student’s success

Name: Maria Pendolino
Degree: BA in English
Plans: Relocate to New York City, where she has accepted a retail banking position with HSBC Bank.

Maria Pendolino can be described as a superachiever. And it’s precisely that high-energy, executive ethos that has helped her cram an astonishing amount of work and activities into her schedule during her four years at Binghamton.

A self-declared workaholic, Pendolino, who was named Exemplary Student of the Year last fall, admits her studies and activities didn’t leave much time for sitting around. “I hate free time,” Pendolino said. “I like to be busy.”

And busy she’s been.

Majoring in English with a creative writing focus and a minor in theatre, Pendolino has an exhausting list of memberships and accomplishments. She has been a member of Phi Eta Sigma and Golden Key International Honor Societies and secretary of the newly formed Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society. She is recipient of the Alexander Rae Baldwin Memorial Scholarship, the Joseph L. Cohen Memorial Scholarship and also the New York Lottery Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship.

Along with being Senior Class Council president and active in CIW and Dickinson community governments, Pendolino has been a resident assistant and very active with the Student Association, where she was voted “most likely to be on Capitol Hill in 10 years.” She was a member of the Vibes female a cappella group and the BU Women’s Chorus, along with being an apprentice DJ for the campus radio station, a substitute teacher for the Binghamton City School District, a BU tour guide and a music and theater editor for Traffic, an online arts magazine.

However, for Pendolino, first and foremost in her heart is her association with the Dickinson Community Players, where she has been a member of its executive board and performed the gamut of duties from writing scripts to printing posters and programs. During her freshman year, Pendolino directed Broadway Blockbusters and its 45 cast members. In the last few years, she has directed, coordinated and acted in a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, which has raised more than $6,000 for the YWCA of Binghamton.

“I tried to make the most of my time here at Binghamton,” Pendolino said. “I would be hard-pressed to find another college where people are so supportive of each other. I feel like I have 15 different families on campus. It’s great to have endless social circles and networks.”

Pendolino said she has always had high energy and a packed schedule, which her parents have always supported. “Oh, my parents are used to me,” she said. “Nothing phases them anymore.”

By her teen years she was already a budding entrepreneur, having started her own babysitting business. “At 12 years old, my school day didn’t start until 9 a.m., so I would go to club meetings and study Japanese before school,” Pendolino said. “I was out the door by 6:45 a.m. each day.”

Graduating is next on her “to-do” list. Pendolino will take the stage again this weekend, but this time as part of Commencement ceremonies, presenting the senior class gifts to President Lois B. DeFleur. “There are a boatload of Pendolinos coming down for graduation,” she said. “And I’m part of the platform party, so my parents are pretty happy about that.”

Now, Pendolino is preparing for her future and has accepted a job in New York City after graduation. Although she will miss her friends and the people at BU, she is energized by what the future could hold. “Every year I’ve spent at Binghamton has been different and new,” she said. “But I’m excited to start the next phase of my life, too.”

Although her day job will be in retail banking, her heart will remain with the theater. Speaking of how only 1 percent of actors call acting their full-time job, Pendolino holds a realistic but optimistic view of the industry. “Acting doesn’t have to be my entire life,” she said. “I could get into teaching or other things. But I want it to always be a major part of my life.”

Theodore Swetz, professor of theatre, said he is humbled by Pendolino’s quest for constant achievement and commitment to being a full-time student. “All of Maria’s actions speak to someone who is striving for an uncommon excellence,” he said “She is someone who searches for meaning and connection in her life and not simply personal reward.”

Swetz believes Binghamton University is the benefactor from Pendolino’s years as a student. “I wish we had more students like her,” he said. “Students who choose to step forward and contribute something of themselves to enrich the whole community.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08