Franco Always Busy Making Dreams Come True


Michael Franco doesn?t just dream dreams; he lives them.

A short while ago, the 24-year-old decided his calling in life was to become a physician. The senior biological sciences major at Rowan Uni

Michael Franco doesn?t just dream dreams; he lives them.

A short while ago, the 24-year-old decided his calling in life was to become a physician. The senior biological sciences major at Rowan University already has been accepted into two medical schools (Temple University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) and is waiting to hear from five more (including Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University).

But biology and medicine are just a small part of who Franco is.

A 1998 graduate of Moorestown Friends School, the Franklinville resident entered Rowan right after high school as a biological sciences major. He was looking for a school close to home and liked the area, the size of the campus and the ability to establish relationships with professors. He only stayed a semester, however, before he left to pursue one dream. A member of the punk rock band ?The Cuffs? at the time, Franco left school to hit the road with his band mates.

?Right before I entered college, we got a very low-level recording deal,? he recalled.

In January 1999, The Cuffs, managed by Franco?s father, Mike, had the opportunity to tour across the country. They traveled from New Jersey to California, playing small venues like bars and clubs along the way, according Franco, a guitarist and singer.

The group toured for about a month, hitting 15 to 20 states. ?We didn?t know where it was going to go from there,? he said. ?Everyone had to start getting on with his life.?

For Franco, getting on with his life meant following another dream. That fall, he entered culinary school at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he earned an associate?s degree after a year and a half. While there, he worked part time in garde manger at the Striped Bass, preparing cold foods for one of Philadelphia?s premier restaurants. Upon graduation he landed a position at another top restaurant in Philadelphia, the nationally recognized Le Bec Fin. He worked there from 2001 to early 2004, focusing on meat and fish.

?That was my real cooking job, and it was pretty intense,? he said.

While cooking at Le Bec Fin, Franco decided to pursue yet another dream, and he returned to Rowan in Fall 2002.

?I realized the lifestyle of a young cook wasn?t really for me. I knew academics was going to suit me better,? he said.

He returned to the Biological Sciences Department, still not quite sure of where he was going. Medical school, he said, always was in the back of his mind, but he kept second-guessing his inclination. ?I didn?t think I was that kind of person,? he said.

His professors thought otherwise. Franco credits Rowan?s Dr. Gregory Hecht, Dr. Elizabeth Brooks and Dr. Richard Meagher, professors and members of Rowan?s pre-professional committee, for encouraging him.

Franco quoted Brooks, a biological sciences professor and a podiatrist, as saying, ?If you?re thinking about medical school, then go for it.?

Go for it he did, and how his dreams are leading him on a path to become an orthopedic surgeon. Franco, who will graduate next month, continued to work at Le Bec Fin until early this year. ?My schedule with school and preparing for medical school got pretty hectic,? said Franco, who still plays in a band, this one an Irish group called Broken Shillelaghs. His next step is to decide on which medical school to attend. Eventually, he wants to practice medicine in this area.

Rock musician. Cook. Future doctor. Not everyone gets to pursue such dreams ? and such diverse dreams at that ? by such a young age.

?I definitely feel lucky in that I?ve had the support of my family,? said Franco, whose family includes his mother, Joanne, and sisters Rashelle, 22, who will graduate from Rowan with him in December, and Kelley, 15, in addition to his father. ?My parents never made me feel locked in.?

And while he thinks his dream of become a doctor is ?the? dream, he doesn?t regret the paths he took to get to where he is today. ?I don?t think I would (change) anything to get the time back,? he said. ?I feel I?ve done the things that will make me a better doctor. I?ve had experiences, traveled, lived in an intensive work environment in the restaurants. I feel prepared.?