When Michael Del Mundo first started playing water polo at the age of 9, he was less than enthusiastic.
But in the end, his mom’s sink-or-swim approach paid off.
“My mom kind of made me,” said Del Mundo. “She made my brother do it (too) because she wanted us to swim.”
During his first game and the eight-lap warm up, he got out of the pool crying, but his mom encouraged him to get back in – and he’s glad now that she did.
“It’s given me a lot of opportunities,” said Del Mundo, who played for the Stockdale High water polo team, as well as playing nine years of club polo.
During his sophomore year of high school, he reached out to the coach of the Harvard water polo team. They don’t give athletic scholarships to the oldest college in the country, so he had to work extra hard from an academic standpoint in order to get accepted.
“(The coach) told me that he couldn’t get me into the school, but if I got in, he’d give me a spot on the team,” said Del Mundo.
Initially waitlisted for admission, he wrote extra letters, hoping to tip the scales in his favor. He was at a valley swim meet with Stockdale High School when he found out he’d been accepted.
Now in the second half of his freshman year, he’s considering which major he will declare this time next year.
“I’m thinking of a concentration in human developmental and regenerative biology – stem cell research,” said Del Mundo, who plans to go to medical school after he finishes his undergrad degree. “I’m excited to take stem cell and regenerative biology – one of the main classes for my major. From a young age, I was always better at science and math.”
A resident of Weld Hall, the same building where John F. Kennedy once lived, he shares a suite with four other students.
As for living on the East Coast, he says one of the main differences from California is walking everywhere, and, of course, the weather.
“It’s 20 degrees right now,” he said at the time of this interview in January.
In addition to playing water polo in high school, Del Mundo was the Drum Major for the Stockdale High marching band.
“It was a great experience,” he said of his alma mater. Great teachers and great staff (who were) always willing to help. I attribute my success to that.”
He started playing saxophone in the fifth grade and still enjoys playing when his roommates aren’t around. He also took piano lessons when he was younger and is trying to learn a little more now.
“There are pianos in the freshman halls and I’ll sneak away and go down there and play a little,” he said.
He’s enjoyed exploring the East Coast and learning about its history. Cambridge, where the college is located, is slower paced than the nearby big city of Boston, so it offers the best of both worlds. He wants to have the full experience while in college, and his parents have always encouraged him to get a well-rounded education.
His mother, Lynn, is a Bakersfield native and retired CPA and his father, Noel, is an OBGYN. Michael was born in Arizona but grew up in Bakersfield.