Meet ‘Schatz’s senior’

LIHUE — It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, as Kate Machorek sees it, so finding time in a packed schedule was a must.

Sure, the Kauai High School senior is busy with classwork and competitive swimming, and is about to decide on which scholarship offer she will take, but getting a chance to learn the ins and outs of political life, well, there was no saying no to that.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, I don’t know how I can pass it up,” said Machorek, who was named the lone Kauai intern for U.S. Sen. Brain Schatz in a group of 15 students known as Schatz’s seniors. “It will be really cool for me to be exposed to the political side of things and how all that works.”

It’s important for Machorek because she plans to study environmental science. Whether she focuses on analysis, law, policy or something else, it’s a topic that intersects with Washington often.

“I’ve never been super-involved in politics but this will open my eyes to this world,” she said.

The group of seniors will work with the senator behind the scenes, setting up community forums and town hall-style gatherings. The goal is to help develop civic mindedness and leadership skills for the young adults as they prepare to embark on their life’s journey. Schatz, who called this year’s crop “the most active and community-engaged high school students in our state,” will also Skype conference call with the seniors as they map out the itinerary from now until April. It won’t all be done over the Internet — far from it. The internship will require a fair amount of time in Honolulu.

“It’s really cool because he is one of the only senators who does internships with seniors, so we’re lucky we have him, Machorek said, adding that one of Schatz’s priority issues is education and making post-secondary schooling more affordable.

Machorek is the daughter of Chris and Stacey Machorek of Kalaheo. She has a younger brother, Jack.

“We are so proud of her,” Stacey said. “Quite honestly, we weren’t surprised at all, we were just extremely proud of her.”

When Machorek — a Swim Kauai Aquatics members who’s being recruited by major universities for her blazing speed in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke — did the phone interview for the program, she was on a visiting trip to Villanova, northwest of Philadelphia. Right before an interview with The Garden Island, she was offered a full-ride scholarship to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point to swim. She said she’ll likely accept an offer in the next few days.

“It’s really cool being from Kauai and being able to do these cool things,” she said.

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