When Ryan Martyn served in Iraq as a Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician, he made a promise that if he survived he would find his way to a profession helping people heal from injury.
On Friday, the 26-year-old Castle Rock resident will make an installment on that promise. He will join an estimated 450 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs graduates participating in commencement ceremonies at the World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Boulevard.
Ceremonies begin at 2 p.m. and will feature comments by UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, CU President Bruce Benson and Becky Medved, a local business entrepreneur and member of the UCCS class of 1987. The CU Board of Regents will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree to Robert Berliner, Los Angeles, in recognition of his assistance to CU in protecting the intellectual property rights of faculty.
At the ceremonies, Martyn’s six-month-old son, Ryder, and wife, Michelle, will celebrate his Bachelor of Science in Biology and his acceptance to the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He begins medical school Aug. 2011.
“As a Navy EOD technician, I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq to combat the growing IED threat,” Martyn recently explained. “Our convoy was hit multiple times weekly. I saw three members of my squad seriously injured and one die. That’s when I made a promise to try to help others.”
Martyn’s unit replaced one that was the subject of the 2010 Academy Award winning film, “The Hurt Locker.” He says the movie accurately describes the harrowing situations of disarming Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs with a substantial difference – real destruction and real danger. Martyn suffered eye damage and considers himself lucky after watching other soldiers lose limbs.
After leaving the Navy, Martyn enrolled at Arapahoe Community College, Littleton. He transferred to UCCS where he received the Morgan Berthrong Scholarship and excelled, at one point completing 29 credit hours in one semester, roughly double the amount of most full-time students.
“All A’s with the exception of one class – physics – where I got an A minus,” Martyn said of his academic success.
So, what kind of medicine does someone who used to defuse bombs hope to practice?
“Emergency,” Martyn said. “I think I’ve got the nerves for it.”
UCCS, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The University offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s, and five doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls about 9,000 students annually.