Fred Sekamana Uwase
Where does an Olympian trade in his black belt for commanding a platoon? UNG.
Judo star Fred Sekamana, who grew up in France, competed for the Rwandan National Team at the 2012 London Olympics. When he returned home, he started planning for a long-term career in the military.
“After the Olympics, I wanted to do something that I was sure was going to last my whole life,” Fred says. “When I officially decided that I was going to join the military, I knew that it was going to be something very hard and involve sacrifices. If that’s what I need to do in order to have a good future, I’ll do it.”
After researching military careers, he determined that getting a degree and becoming an officer would help him accomplish his goals. That’s when he looked at the six U.S. senior military colleges and narrowed his sights on UNG and the Virginia Military Institute.
“When I got to Georgia, I spent one day at UNG, and it was amazing,” Fred says. “I thought there was no point in visiting VMI. So I started working with UNG to come here.”
A semester into the program, he learned about MAVNI—a U.S. military recruiting program that seeks out non-citizens with in-demand skills. Fred’s background and proficiency in French puts him at the top of the MAVNI list. He plans to enlist in the U.S. Army through MAVNI while at UNG.
But his transition from international star athlete to disciplined cadet hasn’t come easy.
“As an international athlete, I got to choose whatever I wanted to do. In the military, I don’t even get to choose what time I eat. But UNG has everything added together to make the experience great.”
Unlike some military institutions, UNG cadets live the full college experience with access to Greek life, student government, NCAA Division II athletics and 100+ student organizations. Next semester, Fred wants to either try out for the men’s tennis team or join the Aggressors Platoon, a physically tough and mentally demanding cadet group specialized in Ranger tactics.
Meanwhile, he’s digging into his military science classes, where he learns about topics like deployment and how the U.S. Army can mobilize an entire military base from one country to another in 72 hours.