Not too many 45-year-old firefighters can say they went to summer school at Harvard University. But Anne Arundel County Deputy Fire Chief John Robert Ray is one of them.
"I was a regular college kid," said Ray, who spent three weeks on the Ivy League campus this summer as part of a program for senior executives in state and local government.
Ray's acceptance to the prestigious program was recognized last week at an awards ceremony. "We really are very proud," said County Executive Janet S. Owens.
Harvard accepts fewer than 80 students into the program, which focuses on the decision-making process of elected, appointed and career government officials.
Classes included discussions of ethical and diversity issues and project management - all relevant to Ray, who oversees the county fire communications, training and research divisions in addition to the fire marshal's office, which includes code inspections and fire investigations.
"It really was a good experience," said Ray, a 24-year department veteran. "There was a lot of focus on how to get projects done."
It wasn't all work, though.
Ray, who had two roommates, got to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, attend a Boston Pops performance and dine at the John F. Kennedy presidential library. "My wife keeps telling me I was having too much fun."
At last week's ceremony, county officials also recognized Firefighters David T. Jernigan and Brian K. Hunt for rescuing a child from a stream - an act that also earned them the Firehouse magazine's Heroism and Community Service Award.
At the awards ceremony, nine firefighters were recognized for promotions. They are: David W. Berry to battalion chief; Robert L. Rose to captain; Claudia L. Clark and Michael R. Messick to lieutenant; and Todd M. Dauses, Matthew T. Brickman, Michael S. Hicks, John E. Lamb, and Michael J. Dooley to firefighter 3.