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International Student Graduates in a League of His Own

Jun 1, 2020

Andrea De Nardi ‘20 is the School of Engineering and Computer Science’s (SOECS) most decorated graduate. Not only did he earn his place as one of four valedictorians for SOECS, but he was also a co-recipient of the SOECS Outstanding Graduate Award, a co-recipient of the Engineering Management Program Outstanding Graduate Award, and a Scholar-Athlete for being the captain of University of the Pacific's NCAA Division I Water Polo Team.

Andrea comes to Pacific from Nice, France and is trilingual in English, French and Italian. He has been a member of the French Junior and Senior Water Polo teams as well as been a two-time NCAA Elite 90 Awardee for having the highest GPA in the Final Four of the NCAA Championship. Locally, he has shared his passion and expertise as a coach for the Big Valley Water Polo team.

“I didn’t know how to combine sports and academic studies in France, so coming to the United States and attending University of the Pacific would allow me to pursue both engineering and water polo.” Said Andrea when asked about what drew him to Pacific. “In the beginning, I was looking at water polo rankings for the schools I was applying to and Pacific at that time was at the top—and still is, actually.” He went on to say that the small classes and student-oriented education at Pacific were great incentives for an international student like himself who wasn’t fluent in English when he started.

“As a kid, I didn’t know that I would become an engineer,” says Andrea when looking back on his path toward the engineering management major. He always loved the sciences and has fond memories of reading books on science and doing lab kits at home. When he arrived at Pacific, he talked to his professors and teammates about his many interests and ultimately decided on engineering management. “I’ve always had that nature of being interested in a lot of different subjects, and it’s a program that’s at the intersection of a lot of engineering disciplines.”

“Andrea is incredible: captain of the Water Polo team, Elite 90 NCAA winner twice, member of the 2024 French Olympic bound National Team and a 4.0 GPA, valedictorian. Even overshadowing these accomplishments, Andrea is the sweetest, nicest person you could hope to meet,” said Dr. Abel Fernandez, Professor and Director of the Engineering Management Program. 

For the first time in Pacific’s history, the School of Engineering and Computer Science had four valedictorians with perfect 4.0 GPAs. This is a testament to the high quality of students that choose Pacific’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. Learn more about the valedictorians and outstanding graduates here.