The average person doesn’t step into a management role in their first job out of college. But Connor Frascati, ’20, is not average.

A winner of the 2020 Reserve Organization of America Gold Medal in recognition of his outstanding qualities of leadership, moral character, and aptitude for future military service, he is a 2nd lieutenant in the military intelligence branch of the U.S. Army National Guard in South Orange, N.J., where he will soon command a platoon of up to 40 soldiers.

The Staten Island native came to University of Richmond on a four-year ROTC scholarship. “The Jepson School of Leadership Studies was a large part of why I chose Richmond,” Frascati said.

“Entering college during the fraught 2016 presidential election prompted me to look closely at government. It’s incumbent upon all of us—especially those of us who serve—to learn as much as we can about our government.”

Frascati explored concepts of democratic governance and politics through his leadership studies major, including Dr. Ken Ruscio’s Democracy and Accountability class and Dr. Thad Williamson’s Leadership in Political Contexts class. He recalled listening intently to Inspector General of Veterans Affairs Michael Missal and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who were guest speakers in Ruscio’s and Williamson’s classes, respectively.

“Hearing from such prominent speakers gave me valuable insights into the political process,” Frascati said. He added political science as his second major, eventually becoming a member of the national political science honor society.

During his junior year, Frascati worked for Unite America, a nonprofit dedicated to bridging the nation’s growing partisan divide and fostering a more representative, functional government. Last summer, he completed his Jepson internship in the office of U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), a decorated U.S. Army veteran.

“I learned a lot about the issues facing my home district of Staten Island and South Brooklyn—especially Medicare and veterans’ cases,” Frascati said. “Max was always on the ground talking to people. He emphasized that serving the people of the district always comes first.”

Back on campus for his senior year, Frascati served as the U.S. Army ROTC cadet Spider battalion commander, the highest-ranking cadet in a battalion of 150 cadets in an Army officer-commissioning program. He continued exploring politics by interning with the office of U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.). Later in the year, he interned with the Virginia Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Frascati said he believes his ROTC service and his government work contributed to his selection as one of the recipients of this year’s Gold Medal of the Reserve Organization of America, which advocates exclusively for the Army Reserve and National Guard.

During a virtual ceremony on May 30, Congressman Rose commissioned Frascati as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army National Guard.

“After you take the oath, life will never be fair again for you,” Rose told Frascati at the beginning of the ceremony. “When you tell people you’re an officer in the United States Army, they’re going to expect more of you. The men and women you’re going to lead are going to expect more of you.”

Frascati will be living into that challenge. He and his soldiers will be responsible for providing real-time intelligence and analysis to commanders. He said he will continue to rely on lessons learned at Richmond to execute his duties effectively and with integrity.

“I will use what I learned about motivating followers in my leadership studies classes to help my soldiers perform at their highest level. I want to have the greatest impact I can in serving people.”

Photo: Frascati (center) with brothers Liam (left) and Finnegan (right) at the May 30 commissioning ceremony

Watch the virtual commissioning ceremony.