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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116

Former Marine at URI plans a ‘secure’ career
Wins prestigious scholarship to study Russian

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 21, 2003 -- University of Rhode Island student Brendan Franzoni wants to pursue a career in the tumultuous field of national security.

His resolve stems from his U.S. Marine Corps experience as a diplomatic security guard protecting American dignitaries. Whether on details guarding President George M. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, or former President Bill Clinton, he saw firsthand the often hidden but diplomatically urgent actions required for national security.

The 24-year-old honor student from Trenton, N.J. is about to get one step closer to his career goal. He is a recipient of a $5,000 David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship. The National Security Education Program (NSEP) administers the scholarship. Funded by Congress in 1991, NSEP’s role is to strengthen national security by helping educate U.S. citizens to better understand and more effectively communicate with other world cultures and languages. The scholarship funds study in areas critical to national security where most U.S. students do not study. Franzoni was one of 183 students who received the award, out of 765 students who applied.

Franzoni will go to Russia this summer to study at the International Institute of Russian Language and Culture at Tver State University, Tver, Russia.

He chose to study the Russian language and culture because he wanted to expand his knowledge of the non-American world by experiencing a country that once stood at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum of America.

"The Cold War has always fascinated me," he says. Too young to have lived during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of bomb shelters, or practice air raids in school, the URI student vividly recalls family stories about that era. He has also studied the subject at URI.

He notes that "war" remains relevant to security issues. "There’s a real concern about black market sales of nuclear weapons today."

"I like security," adds the political science major who minors in history. "It’s intense and plays directly to my sense of adventure and intellectual curiosity. As a Marine, I’ve traveled to 15 countries, lived in Belgium for two years, Japan for nine months and Bahrain for a year and a half. I just can’t see myself at a desk job.

"Five years ago, the Marines Corps provided a window to a world outside of New Jersey as well as outside of the security and peace of the United States," he adds. "This scholarship offers me another window, one that will help ready me for a life of public service at the front lines of international relations and security."

When Franzoni returns to campus in the fall, he will continue with his Russian studies to prepare himself for a longer period abroad as a student.

Franzoni enrolled at URI because his best friend since boyhood was attending URI. Once he stepped foot on the Kingston campus, Franzoni said he fell in love. His friend, Delaware Hood, graduated from URI with a degree in chemical engineering in 2000, lives locally and works for Toray Plastics.

Franzoni’s experience at the University has been positive. "I’m in the Honors Program and enjoy the challenge and the smaller classes. Cheryl Foster, associate director of the Honors Program, made the phone call to the NSEP to tell them about me. She’s been extremely supportive."

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