After earning his bachelor's degree in political science, Hardy-Françon got to work earning his master's, and landed a spot on an investigative reality show.
Gabriel Hardy-Françon ’14 was always a person with dreams and ambitions, but there’s one place he never expected to end up—on TV.
Much to his surprise, Hardy-Françon was selected to be part of the cast for the Fall 2016 season of Hunted, a reality show on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.
“The premise of the show was that 10 ordinary citizens go on the run and specialists are given 28 days to find them,” he said. “I was one of the specialists. It was great!”
Hardy-Françon landed the TV spot while he was a student at King’s College, London, where he enrolled after earning his bachelor’s degree in political science at Adelphi University. Producers of the program were looking for students studying intelligence methods, and Hardy-Françon—who was earning an M.A. in Intelligence and International Security—was one of four people selected for the program out of more than 90 applicants.
“My team was responsible for categorizing the information that came in and classifying it. The entire investigation was based on how well we did the classification,” he said. “What we were doing was crucial.”
Hardy-Françon’s flirtation with reality television was just another development in a career that has seen him pursue opportunities, educational and otherwise, in several countries.
Born in a rural area of France, Hardy-Françon, by his own admission, didn’t seem to be a promising scholar while growing up.
“I was a terrible student in middle school,” he said. “I never did any work. But I told my mom that I’d prove to her that I can reach the highest of the high.
Hardy-Françon made good on his promise. He attended a private high school and did well. He attempted higher education in France but longed to study in the United States. Through a French scholarship program, he enrolled in Lindenwood University in Missouri to study criminal justice. It wasn’t long, however, before he developed a keener interest in politics. He sought a school with a strong political science program and learned about Adelphi.
“I applied and visited. I was very impressed!” he said. “When I got in, I don’t think I realized that the place would influence my life in so many ways.”
Hardy-Françon joined the Honors College at Adelphi and made the acquaintance of professors who would transform his academic life, including Nicholas X. Rizopoulos, Ph.D., the Honors College academic director for special programs and research.
“Professor Rizopoulos, my mentor, taught me so much,” Hardy-Françon said. “We used to joke that we were majoring not in political science, but Rizopoulos.”
He remembered feeling especially thrilled to be invited to one of Dr. Rizopoulos’ special seminars.
“It was a big honor to be invited to his class,” he said. “I was buzzing with joy, I was so happy. After being such a bad student earlier, it was such a big recognition to be considered one of his best students.
“I never had an experience in education like I had there, ever,” he added. “The quality of the professors was so high, and they had such a big impact on me. I felt like part of a family.”
Hardy-Françon’s positive experience at Adelphi led him to King’s College and to Hunted. He didn’t get to experience any of the benefits of TV stardom, however; by the time the show aired in the U.K., he had already secured a position with the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development in the Department of International Cooperation and was continuing his Russian language studies in preparation for a job in the intelligence community.
Surprisingly, one of the first people he encountered at the ministry, Director of Economic Development and Trade Olena Tregub, had been an adjunct professor of political science at Adelphi in 2008.
“Adelphi follows me everywhere!” Hardy-Françon laughed. “All the way in Ukraine, Adelphi is still there for me.”
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