PJ Fricano, a 2017 graduate, never envisioned himself spending over 20 years in the classroom, but after his time at Wahlert High School in Dubuque, Iowa, Loras College for his undergraduate degree, and finally Notre Dame for his law degree; PJ has a litany of academic achievements to be proud of. “Going from not liking school too much, to loving school at Loras, it was all hard but rewarding,” Fricano said. Since graduating from law school, PJ has become a Lieutenant in the United States Navy JAG Corps.
PJ has found a great balance in all aspects of his life within his line of work, from his physical regimen to his work-life balance. However, his inspiration and drive came from a unique place. “I saw A Few Good Men, a popular movie with a very young Tom Cruise,” PJ started, “and ever since I saw that movie, I knew that I wanted to join the Navy.” Looking back at his career, though, it seemed fitting that PJ ended up serving his country through his work with the military. He began interning at the House of Representatives, watching countless political systems working together first-hand. He worked with various constituents, bills, and processes to build his resume before clerking with the JAG Corps. “Getting to see how the JAG Corps operates within the Navy but with the larger community itself helped me realize that it was the right fit for me.”
PJ spent his entire academic career in Catholic institutions. Looking back on it, he always knew that he wanted to remain learning at Catholic institutions throughout his whole educational journey. “I have been able to be in many classrooms where religion was approached from an academic standpoint,” PJ Started. “I’ve been able to see how many different religions interact with government systems and the law and that is something that really contributes to a holistic analysis of the different aspects of my work.”
PJ didn’t know right away that Loras was the right fit for him. In fact, he hadn’t decided until the August after graduating from Wahlert High School, that he wanted to attend Loras. “Getting to know my professors and classmates well was really beneficial to me,” PJ started. “Dr. Andrew Auge (’78) was just one of so many great Loras professors that I had.” In addition to a wide array of classes with countless top-tier faculty, PJ stayed very involved outside of the classroom as well. From DuBuddies to his Honors group, PJ made the most of his Loras experience. After all of those experiences, PJ remains in contact with his Duhawk friends. A theme that has become common with our Dozen, staying in touch is something that PJ very much echoes with his advice to young alumni. “I don’t have Facebook, so I put my friends’ birthdays in my calendar. I send them texts. It’s just important to keep in touch.”
As PJ gets ready to return to campus for his 5-year reunion on October 7, 8 and 9 — he leaves our listeners with his greatest piece of advice: “You can’t be anybody else but yourself. So, the only way you’re going to be successful is by being true to yourself.”
The views presented are those of the speaker or author and do not necessarily represent the views of Department of Defense, the United States Navy, or its components.