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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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ProfileChris Feeley '86
Vice President for Government and Public Sector

Christopher Feeley ’86 knows a thing or two about being flexible. He spent his childhood on the road with his family – his dad was an auditor for Shell Oil Co. – living in 13 different places by the time he was in fifth grade.
The Connecticut native became interested in agricultural issues after his family spent time in Indiana. When it was time for college, he chose the University of Connecticut, eyeing a career in agriculture. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science. He was, he relates, planning a career where he could be outdoors and he “always liked growing things.” He ended up working for a dairymen’s cooperative in Cobleskill, N.Y.

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