Supporting SUNY Empire State College
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ProfileRyan Smithson
'12
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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ProfileAlthea Luehrsen '02, '10
Niagara Frontier
Executive Director
Leadership Buffalo


Who she is: Althea Luehrsen ’02, Niagara Frontier Center
and ’10, School for Graduate Studies.
What she does: Executive director of Leadership Buffalo
and owner of Strategic Solutions Group.

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