Lifelong learning continues for Army officer Joshua Frey ’09

Military experience and a lifelong love of learning go hand-in-hand for Joshua Frey ’09. Already a nuclear and counterproliferation officer for the U.S. Army, Frey will receive his second master’s degree next spring.

While at Ripon, Frey majored in physical science and religion, with a minor in military leadership. “The religion major was my way of fulfilling the various global studies requirements that existed at the time, but Professor (of Religion) Brian Smith really engaged my thinking and helped broaden my world views, while the actual academic work complemented the academic skills I developed in the sciences,” Frey says.

“I serve on one of the Army’s Nuclear Disablement Teams, which have a two-fold mission to assess, characterize and disable nuclear fuel cycle infrastructure overseas and to support nuclear forensics in the case of a nuclear detonation in the United States. The Army is concerned with preventing the spread of nuclear material, technology and expertise, so we train at many of the national labs on nuclear facilities to gain experience and learn how to, for example, shut down a power reactor.”

At Ripon, Frey studied military leadership on a full-ride ROTC scholarship, but this also sparked his interest in international relations, the subject of his future master’s degree. His first master’s degree was in environmental management.

Studying while also serving in the military has its benefits and challenges, Frey says. “I view my studies as part of my own desire for lifelong learning and personal fulfillment, and the Army has provided me the security to pursue interest without worrying a lot about future employment, which I know a lot of people aren’t able to do,” Frey explains.

He has spent 3½ years outside the United States, but he says this made studying more diverse. Frey says he enjoys “the opportunity to meet the different professors, two of whom were Americans living in Japan; another who was an adjunct with a full-time position at a Korean university; and another a Korean lawyer with a degree from Michigan. It was a great way to gain a unique perspective on living international relations.”

In his current job, Frey serves in Aberdeen, Maryland. Living on the East Coast is a new experience for Frey. In August, he attended the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Philadelphia, and, while there, met with Associate Professor of Chemistry Joe Scanlon and Dr. Corey Alvey ’11.

After receiving his second master’s degree, Frey hopes to begin the process of earning a nuclear engineering graduate degree in the next two years. Frey will be able to retire at the age of 42 and wants to take up a second career as a teacher.

“A lot of the expertise in the nuclear field is being lost to the retirement and passing of the original scientific cadre who developed both nuclear power and nuclear weapons during the Cold War,” Frey says. Regardless of whether one approves of nuclear weapons, Frey believes understanding them is important.

“A deep knowledge of both the technical matters and political/strategic consequences is essential to either their safe use and improvement or retirement over the next century,” he says.

Megan Sohr ’18
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

(Cpt. Joshua Frey, front row, first on right)


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