August 11, 2020

One “Framily”

At the end of another hectic day, UMW senior Zaire Sprowal heads home. It’s a short stroll down a rolling hill on the edge of campus, past trees and brick pathways. Lampposts cast a glow on the benches that flank his front door.

Small, eclectic, and familial, Framar House is home to the International Living Center and 21 students from around the world. It’s three stories of multi-cultural, multi-lingual living. And it’s perfect for Sprowal, who grew up inspired by the wide range of people he encountered on the streets of New York. At UMW, he’s exploring a much smaller, but increasingly complex, population. Last year’s winner of the Citizenship and Diversity Award, he’s tossed himself into nearly every activity on campus, working to get a handle on specific group interests and how he can help represent them.

“He wants to make sure he does all that he can to help each student have a positive experience,” said James Farmer Multicultural Center Director Marion Sanford, who’s worked with Sprowal to kick-start diverse events on campus, including an interfaith forum and a #BlackLivesMatter discussion and vigil. “He wants to make a difference.”

Zaire Sprowal

That difference starts at his home away from home. Acquired by the University in 1946, Framar welcomes students from all over the world, with current inhabitants hailing coming from Italy, Germany, Mongolia and more. Housemates playfully call themselves a “Framily.”

“It’s the aggregate of so many experiences,” said Sprowal, vice president of Framar, which hosts annual campus hits such as Bhangra Beat and the Holi celebration.

But Sprowal doesn’t stop there. He’s immersed himself in everything from sports to science, philosophy to foreign language, music to mentoring.

This year alone, Sprowal has led multiple interfaith discussions with Fredericksburg-community religious leaders, has moderated an inter-departmental program about the Flint Water Crisis including faculty and students, was an integral role in bringing distinguished astronomer Heidi Hammel to UMW this semester and was the Student Government Association’s Diversity and Unity Coordinating Committee Chair.

In the classroom, this first-generation college student is one many physics majors who have completed research projects ranging from controlling a telescope in North Carolina to interning for NASA. This past summer, Sprowal snagged an internship in nuclear chemistry, analyzing the data of fusion reactions of neutron rich light nuclei for the University of Indiana. This summer, he will be doing an internship at Notre Dame this summer working with nuclear astrophysics.

After UMW, he plans to contribute towards developing alternative sources of energy such as hydrogen fusion and continue building understanding between himself and different underrepresented groups. For the next year, however, he’ll spend jam-packed days riding his bike along Campus Walk, attending meeting after meeting, returning each evening to Framar and his “Framily.”

“It’s one of the most bittersweet aspects about living in the house,” Sprowal said about saying farewell to graduating members and exchange students who leave. “The fact that we can all live so cohesively in this microcosm together, with such diverse backgrounds, gives us hope for the future of our world.”