This week could be magic for URI alumnus Mat Franco

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URI viewing party set tonight to see him compete for $1 million on America’s Got Talent

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 16, 2014 – Magician Mat Franco has made it through every stage of America’s Got Talent with nothing but praise from the judges and standing ovations from the audience.

Franco, a 2010 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, is preparing for another electrifying performance tonight at Radio City Music Hall when he competes on America’s Got Talent against five other finalists for $1 million and a headline show in Las Vegas.

The last talent competition airs tonight, Sept. 16 from 9 to 11 on NBC 10, and the University community will gather for a viewing party at the same time in Rhody Market at Hope Commons, 19 Butterfield Road. The champion will be crowned on Wednesday night’s show starting at 8 on NBC 10.

“This has been an incredible journey so far, and the craziest part is feeling so much support from people, the URI and Rhode Island community in particular,” Franco said. “Performing magic is what I have dedicated my life to, and to feel people being receptive to it is just unreal. Being voted to the finale of America’s Got Talent leaves me nothing but thankful.

“In the end, voting is what matters, and I hope people will band together as we continue on this incredible journey together,” said the Newport resident who grew up in Johnston. “I just want to say thank you to all who have shown support out there. I cannot express enough gratitude to all of you.”

Linda Lyons, assistant dean of URI’s University College for Academic Success, is not surprised that Franco made it to the final round because she knows how hard he has worked since his freshman year at the University. She was the full-time adviser for undeclared students, and Franco was in her URI 101 freshman seminar class, designed for students who hadn’t selected a major.

After many classes and advising sessions with Lyons, Franco chose marketing.

“He always talked about magic, and I remember him going back and forth between communication studies and marketing,” Lyons said. “We talked and talked about what would be a good fit for a potential career and business in magic.

“The skill set he learned in marketing was really great for him, especially since he also has a talent management agency,” Lyons said. “He didn’t shy away from the challenge. “

Now, seeing how far Franco has progressed from his undergraduate days, Lyons is thrilled with his success.

“What you see on stage is the real thing–a warm, enthusiastic young man with talent,” she said. “What you don’t see behind all that is a very astute businessman. He is a master at marketing himself and using social media.”

Lyons jokes that she is like a proud momma, and that her family is tired of hearing her talk about him.

“He is a wonderful representative of URI, a great role model, and as far as I’m concerned he has already launched his career. No matter what happens tonight on AGT, he has already made a name for himself in the entertainment world.”