Posted on Tuesday, June 27, 2023
After graduating with a Criminal Justice degree from Westminster, Ryan Trunk '07 pursued a Master's in Public Administration degree at John Jay College, leading him to embark on a career in the United States Marine Corps. He served in various locations before transitioning to become a Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat) with the Department of State.
Through his various roles, he recalls his time on Westminster College's swim team and with his academic mentors as something that significantly shaped his military life and beyond.
Tell me a little bit about your time following graduation.
After graduating from Westminster in 2007, I studied at John Jay College in NYC, where I received my Master's in Public Administration degree. Following my graduation in 2010, I Commissioned in the United States Marine Corps and was subsequently stationed in Japan, Bahrain, Quantico, and Washington, D.C. I left the active duty Marine Corps in 2019 and accepted a Commission as a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. My first post with the Department of State was Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and I will head to Paris, France in July for my second post. I am also currently serving as a Major in the Marine Corps Reserves where I am the Law Enforcement Advisor on a foreign military advisor team.
How did your experiences at Westminster shape your personal and professional life?
I had outstanding athletic and academic mentors at Westminster. The swim team led by Coach Rob Klamut provided me the athletic and leadership skills that helped me thrive as a Marine. On the academic front, Dr. Grove, Dr. Park, and Dr. Smithey prepared me intellectually for my career in foreign affairs with the Department of State.
What was one of your most life-changing experiences during your time serving our country?
It is difficult to choose one single experience during my career. Working overseas is an amazing adventure that allows me to learn about other cultures and learn foreign languages while representing the United States of America.
What has been your favorite role during your service?
Serving as Company Commander at Marine Barracks Washington, DC was simultaneously the most rewarding and most challenging position of my career. In this role, we prepared young Marines to serve in demanding ceremonial and national security roles.
What or who encouraged you want to serve in this way?
Both of my parents were teachers and taught me the importance of serving others. I learned the values of hard work, patriotism, and a passion for travel from them, and I am now fortunate to be able to carry on the family tradition of service as both a Diplomat and Marine.
What are some of your fondest memories from your time at Westminster?
Our freshman year swim team, nicknamed “D12,” overcame significant challenges through team cohesion and hard work to earn a second place finish at the President Athletic Conference (PAC) Championships despite having only 12 members. Our team then dedicated ourselves to not only win the next three PAC championships, but also send several relay teams to the NCAA Division III National Championships.
Have you maintained Westminster connections after graduation? How has this benefitted you.
On a weekly basis, I am in contact with Westminster faculty or alumni to seek advice or just to catch up. The swim team at Westminster has a strong tradition of forging lasting bonds that continues today with Coach Pat Smith.