Stephanie Ripma, ICE
When 9/11 happened, I was 11 years old and in fifth grade. I found out when I was in art class and a message came in from the main office that our teacher was to read to the whole class. She began reading in her normal warm happy voice, but as she continued reading she got slower and slower. I specifically remember her stating the United States had been attacked by terrorists. She seemed afraid, but at that point I wasn’t sure what exactly had happened. It wasn’t until kids began leaving school that it occurred to me something truly serious was going on.
September 11 inspired me to become a public servant because my whole world changed that day. I grew up in a extremely patriotic time in the years following 9/11 and all I wanted to do was either join the military or work for the federal government to help ensure nothing like 9/11 ever happened again. There is no other place I would rather work, and I have felt this way since I was 11 years old.
I serve because I feel that I need to do my part to contribute to ensuring the safety of the US like so many others before me, including both my grandfathers who served in the US army during WWII.
The DHS mission resonates with me because helping to keep America safe has been my focus since 9/11 at age 11, and I think it is essential that we do so with honor and integrity because that is one of the defining differences between us and the terrorists. They had/have no honor or integrity, we do and we behave accordingly.