Ryan Smith '06Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York, NY
Ryan Smith '06 is adaptable, a trait that has proven to be vital to his work. Smith is the Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations. An international non-governmental organization (NGO), the Presbyterian Ministry is part of the Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry area of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
"Being able to comprehend and work in different areas is essential in my work," Smith explains. "I may go from a meeting on women's rights to one on the delivery of humanitarian aid in South Sudan in a matter of minutes. The ability to adapt to the situation at hand is extremely important. My liberal arts base helps to make those transitions easier.
"Smith demonstrated early his proclivity for multi-disciplinary thinking and integrated problem solving. He was a triple major at Hartwick, studying economics, political science, and German in equal measure. After his year as a Fulbright Scholar, his graduate studies at Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations of Seton Hall University, and his early successes in effecting change worldwide, he still credits his Hartwick faculty mentors with making the difference.
"The Hartwick faculty has made a lasting impression on me," Smith says, starting with Wendell Frye. "Dr. Frye is a scholar who brought history to life when examining literature. His frank reflections and advice have stayed with me years after leaving Hartwick." In political science, it was Dr. Mary Vanderlaan who "opened my eyes to the struggles and possibilities of international diplomacy; for that, I am forever thankful."
In his study of economics, Smith was most influenced by Drs. Karl Seeley and Carli Cochi Ficano. "Dr. Seeley can take complex economic models and turn them into reality. His willingness to teach and study and consider different points of view is inspiring." As for Dr. Ficano, "Her interest in labor and socio-economics helped provide me with a base for the work that I now do with advocating global policy. Her focus on the people within the economic systems helps me to remember that there are indeed people who are affected bythe policies of governments and politicians."
Smith's sense of global responsibility began at Hartwick. He earned an Emerson International Internship to live among and work with the people of Kiomoni Village, Tanga, Tanzania. He balanced his time there between teaching the children English and helping to establish a clean water development project and a community-based arsenic mitigation program. Upon his return, he soon applied for a Fulbright and spent his first year after college living, learning, and teaching in Germany.
"The experience Hartwick gave me putting liberal arts into practice was so beneficial," he says. "Whether it was the Emerson scholarship, the Fulbright, or taking a philosophy class, liberal arts opened my eyes to a broader world. In my career, there are all too often not easy answers. It was my liberal arts education that helped me to appreciate the gray in a world where black and white is sometimes the easier choice.
"Hartwick set the stage for who I have become and will continue to influence who I will be in the future," he adds. "I doubt that I would where I am today without my Hartwick experience."