Supporting SUNY Empire State College
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ProfileRyan Smithson
Interdisciplinary Studies – Studies in Literature and History
Northeast Center

Ryan Smithson is special. As a teenager who enlisted in the Army after witnessing the events of Sept. 11, 2001, he showed courage at an early age. After serving his country in Iraq he came home inwardly troubled. To ease his emotional turmoil, he wrote. Publishing his story as a book, "Ghosts of War," taught him the power of taking what he knew about himself to create the future that he wanted. The book also connected him to his passions for history and writing.

Ryan's story overlaps with the story of Nicholas Pekearo, who was an auxiliary police officer who was killed on duty in 2007. Nicholas was a prolific writer who was earning a degree at SUNY Empire State College before he died. Nicholas' mentor at the college’s Metropolitan Center, Shirley Ariker, told The New York Times at the time of Nick's death that, "He wrote stories about people struggling to do the right thing."

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ProfileMary Raymond '99 '04
Center for Distance Learning
Department of Homeland Security

After serving in the Army for six years, Mary Raymond was recruited by the U.S. Secret Service, working for six presidents during 23 years of service and retiring as assistant division chief.

She then worked as Northeast regional director for the Office of Infrastructure Protection for the Department of Homeland Security.

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