MEDIA: Sarah Ann Hones, Distinguished Scholarships Program director, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-8239, email@example.com
Amelia Veneziano, communications staff, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679, firstname.lastname@example.org
Unearthing an Italian connection
Italy wasn’t just about academics. In the course of his studies there, Freeze decided to try to pick up some Italian. The author of a language book had a familiar name on the cover—Picarazzi—the same as his maternal grandfather who immigrated to America from southern Italy.
“Do I know this person?” Freeze wondered. “So I emailed her and asked if we could be related.”
After several exchanges, the two determined that they were, in fact, second or third cousins.
“And that my great-uncle Lou bought her father his first pair of shoes during the war,” Freeze said. “It’s crazy. Getting the opportunity to go to Italy opened up this connection with someone out of nowhere.”
College: the Most Foreign Experience of All
One of seven children, Freeze is just the second to attend college. He grew up in Hamilton, a rural town in Texas Hill Country “about three hours from anything.”
“I feel like my family has the makings of a good country song,” he said. “When I was four, my family and I lived in a tent. In junior high I picked grass in a neighbor’s corn field for money and I worked through high school. With that many kids, resources can be tight.”
Freeze was unsure about attending a four-year university. As a Texas farm kid, he was in Future Farmers of America and 4-H, but never had much formal science education. He considered going to art school, but instead took community college courses in central California. One earth science course in, and he was hooked.
“I was doing so much better in my science classes then my art classes,” he said. “That was because in science I was so attentive. It was fascinating. So I decided to switch.”
Transferring to UNR gave him what he calls the biggest culture shock of his life.
“Going to a large university for the first time was honestly the most foreign experience I have ever had, or ever will have, including my international research and travel experience. Once I got over that, though, I was completely fearless.
“Getting my undergraduate degree was one thing, and the Ph.D. is something else. Now, as a Fulbright Fellow and with all of the international work I’ve done, my family is really proud of me.”
PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University doctoral student Patrick Freeze has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to spend 10 months in Thailand to study reducing toxic cadmium contamination and plant uptake in rural rice paddy soils, with a goal to improve the quality of the grain as a safe food source as well as an export product.
“Patrick’s pursuits in soil science and remediation in combination with his personal interest in improving life through science made him an excellent candidate for support from the nationally funded Fulbright Program,” said Sarah Ann Hones, director of the Distinguished Scholarships Program in WSU Undergraduate Education. “We appreciate that he will be an outstanding ambassador of our university and the U.S.”
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