From Phoenix to Croatia, knowing Russian helped ASU graduate serve his country

Friday, March 9, 2018

Editor's note: This story is a personal account from the mother of an ASU graduate, and it has been edited for length and clarity.

My name is Donna Fox, and I wanted to share a story about one of your May 2017 graduates from the School of International Letters and Cultures: my son, Cody Fox.

Cody graduated from Arizona State University with a BA in Russian. With an exceptional military upbringing and ROTC career for the previous 10 years, he was immediately called to Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin the intensive training for Ranger School in the United States Army. It seems they found great potential benefit in his Russian education as he shipped out right after graduation.

After this past Thanksgiving, he went on his first deployment to Vicenza, Italy. His mission there is to train U.S. coalition forces and NATO allies along the Russian border in defense against any encroachment by Russia. He is now part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Chosen Company stationed in Del Din, Italy.

About two weeks ago, Cody was ordered to parachute into Germany with his men to assist Croatian troops with maneuver training and self-defense. 

After a particularly long day, he heard a man call out "comrade" in Russian. As he stood up, he faced a fully uniformed, high-ranking Croatian military officer. The officer told him (in Russian) that he had heard one of the local Army officers spoke conversational Russian … so he came to find my son.

They spoke in Russian together for about a half an hour about various things. During the conversation, one of Cody's superior officers came upon them, listening as Cody and the Croatian talked and laughed together quietly.

Afterward, Cody’s superior officer asked him about how he learned Russian. Cody told the officer of his favorite professor, Saule Moldabekova, at the School of International Letters and Cultures, who inspired him to learn more about the language and Russian culture.

After the encounter, the lieutenant colonel of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (over Cody's entire unit) offered Cody the opportunity to serve as his personal Russian interpretive aide, serving as interpreter for him when they evaluated and planned international military operations with our NATO allies along the Russian border (Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, et al).

To be offered this opportunity at 23 years old is a great honor, and Cody was beside himself to be granted the opportunity. SILC and his beloved Professor Moldabekova played an integral part in it. We all have that one professor who shapes our future.

SILC’s hard work — from the secretaries to the counselors to the professors — shaped my son, and his life now has a worldwide influence on both our national security and our international relations with American allies.