Detroit — A graduate from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School has been named the first recipient of a scholarship named for journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria and later beheaded by Islamic State militants.

Jake Zelinski, 18, of Rochester Hills, is Marquette University’s first James Foley scholar, the school announced Wednesday, the anniversary of Foley’s death.

Foley, a 1996 graduate of Marquette, was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012 when the car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a battle zone that Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control. His videotaped execution was posted online.

After his death, more than 1,370 people from around the world contributed over $320,000 to the James Foley Endowed Scholarship Fund. The $8,000 scholarship will be given biannually and is renewable each year.

Zelinski, who graduated in May, plans to major in theater arts and digital media at Marquette.

“To receive an award in honor of someone so loving and selfless to all those he encountered, as well as so brave and truthful in all of his endeavors was amazing,” Zelinski said.

Foley grew up in New Hampshire and studied history at Marquette. He later taught in Arizona, Massachusetts and Chicago before becoming a journalist, which he viewed as a calling.

Foley covered the war in Afghanistan, and he was captured and held for six weeks while covering the uprising in Libya. In Syria, he contributed video to news agencies.

“He was a very committed freelance journalist and teacher,” his mother, Diane Foley, told the Associated Press this week. “And that began at Marquette with their outreach to others.”


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