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Ceremony celebrates 14 TSA officers who completed homeland security training
April 1, 2013
A special program at the Community College of Rhode Island is helping keep American travelers safe while offering adult learners a chance at a higher education.
Fourteen Transportation Security Administration officers from T.F. Green Airport began taking specially designed courses at CCRI in Fall 2011. They completed the program in December and were honored in a ceremony at the college on March 27.
This program was part of a nationwide partnership between the TSA and community colleges to train its workforce and encourage participants to pursue a college degree.
Students learned about the nature of terrorism, the history of the Department of Homeland Security and how it has evolved, the USA PATRIOT Act, proper procedures for respecting civil rights, intelligence analysis, and border security issues for airports, seaports, railways and other locations.
Best of all, they earned college credits that can be applied toward an associate degree or CCRI’s new Homeland Security Certificate program. Most of the participating TSA officers have elected to continue their education.
“I’m planning to continue here as long as I can,” said program graduate Carolyn Scire.
Scire is an expert coordination center officer at T.F. Green and has worked at the airport since before the TSA was created. This is her second time as a CCRI student and she said she is happy to have another chance at getting a higher education.
“I started CCRI many years ago and I left eight credits short of an associate degree due to an illness,” she said. “I had always thought I would go back but I never did.”
Scire said the TSA program got her back in the classroom because the courses sounded interesting and it offered a chance to advance in her career. She called it a fantastic program with great instructors.
“The program reaffirmed for me why I became an officer in the TSA,” she said.
TSA Security Training Instructor Maricela Ko is also using the program to restart her college career.
“I was going to school before but I had to stop because I had three daughters in college,” she said. “Two of them have graduated and I can afford to pay my own tuition now.”
Mark Lewis, a nine-year veteran of the TSA who joined shortly after 9/11, said he took the program “to learn more about what we do to fight terrorism.” He, too, is continuing his education at CCRI, calling it a great opportunity to advance his career.
The TSA program that pairs airports with local community colleges began in 2008 and TSA approached CCRI about it in 2011.
Tasha Gillette, director of workforce training in the CCRI Workforce Partnerships, said the program is something both organizations can be proud of.
“I’m impressed that CCRI and the TSA could collaborate so effectively and see this program through to its first graduating class,” she said. “Part of the mission of the community college is to provide workforce development opportunities like this to organizations in the area, and this is a great example of what we can do.”
It is not just the TSA officers who are benefiting from the organization’s partnership with the community college. CCRI is now free to teach these courses to all of its students.
The courses, Introduction to Homeland Security, Intelligence Analysis and Security Management, and Transportation and Border Security, are now the core of CCRI’s new Homeland Security Certificate Program.
Students in this program complete 18 credits and specialize in one of three areas: cybersecurity, law enforcement or emergency management. These credits complement an associate degree in law enforcement, computer studies or any other field.
Joseph Arsenault, program director of CCRI Emergency Management who also oversees the Homeland Security Program, said it is a great opportunity for people who work in law enforcement as well as new students who are just starting to think about a career.
“This program will strengthen a student career-wise; it can be used for career development at any age,” he said.