URI theater and public relations freshman receives Fulbright Summer Institute award to study at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London

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KINGSTON, R.I., May 9, 2016—A few weeks ago, Brandon Lovejoy rolled out of bed and did what most college students do: He checked his phone for messages.

One elicited a happy screech that practically woke up his entire residence hall. “Oh my gosh,” he shouted. “I got it.” What he got was a US-UK Fulbright Commission Summer Institute award to study at the Globe Theatre in London.

The 18-year-old freshman at the University of Rhode Island will spend three weeks this summer at the world-famous theater, a reconstruction of the open-air theater, originally built in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and wrote many of his greatest plays.

Lovejoy, who is majoring in theater and public relations at URI, says he’s still “floating on cloud nine”—and that his parents are too. The news rendered his father, Marc, speechless. His mother, Tammy, burst into tears.

“I try to make the best of every opportunity that comes my way,” says Lovejoy. “This award means the absolute world to me—and my family.”

The program from June 13 to July 1 is intense—and fun. He’ll focus on acting and understanding Shakespeare texts and also take workshops on combat and sword play, movement, dance and design. He’ll also get to watch performances, meet with Globe actors, collaborate with other college students from throughout the world, and immerse himself in London’s rich cultural offerings.

Growing up in Littleton, Colo., a town outside of Denver, Lovejoy’s first acting experience was in a grade-school production of The Wizard of Oz. He was the Tin Man. “Most of the kids were doing this because they had to,” he says. “I loved it.”

When he stepped on stage at Dakota Ridge High School, his life changed. He was the chef in a musical production of Cinderella. “I loved the energy,” he says. “My role wasn’t too fancy, but I was hooked, enamored. It was like falling in love for the first time.”

From there, he progressed to more roles, more challenges, more delight: Vinnie in The Odd Couple; Ricky in Talk About a Murder; and an ensemble member in The Laramie Project. When it came time to pick a college, he looked for institutions that offered degrees in public relations and theater. He applied to 14 schools, including URI.

During a two-week road trip visiting colleges, Lovejoy and his dad decided to “go north” to URI—blanketed with snow at the time. Lovejoy thought the campus was beautiful, but he was really impressed by the students he met, including Emma Clarke, who graduated from URI in December with a degree in public relations.

Clarke made a quick call to Thomas Zorabedian, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the group was soon eating lunch at the Alumni Center to talk about Lovejoy’s interest in public relations. Zorabedian, in turn, connected Lovejoy to Bonnie Bosworth in the URI Theatre Department.

“Everyone made me feel so special,” he says. “That’s why I came.”

He was homesick his first few weeks, but he quickly remedied that by getting involved with the theater and student activities. He’s been in two URI productions so far—Legally Blonde and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. He also sells tickets in the theater’s box office. He’s a tour guide and will be a peer leader next fall at the URI Leadership Institute—an honor since his minor is leadership studies. He is also an Honors Program participant.

Applicants for the US-UK Fulbright Summer Institute were selected for their leadership qualities and initiative, academic ability and character, as well as their interest in the United Kingdom and its culture.

The application process included a lengthy written application—Lovejoy wrote about achieving the rank of Eagle Scout—and a phone interview with the director of awards of the US-UK Fulbright Commission and an external reviewer.

Lovejoy can’t wait to get started: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m eager to see it all and then some. My decision to come to URI was the right one. I’m getting to do something so amazing.”

About the Summer Institutes:

Each year, the Fulbright Commission supports about 60 UK and American undergraduate students to undertake a demanding academic and cultural summer program at leading institutions in the U.S. and UK respectively. This year, the Commission is hosting the following nine Summer Institute programs at host institutions across the UK: the Summer Institute at Shakespeare’s Globe; University of Bristol Summer Institute; Durham University Summer Institute; University of Exeter Summer Institute; King’s College London Summer Institute; Queen’s University Belfast Summer Institute; SOAS, University of London Summer Institute; Scotland Summer Institute (at the University of Dundee and the University of Strathclyde); and the Wales Summer Institute (at Cardiff University, Bangor University and Aberystwyth University).

For more information visit Fulbright Awards.

Pictured above: Brandon Lovejoy, 18, of Littleton, Colo., a freshman at the University of Rhode Island who was selected to participate in the US-UK Fulbright Summer Institute to study at the Globe Theatre in London.

Photo by Mike Salerno Photography.