Long Island City, NY—As part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s program to provide educational opportunities to its Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, LaGuardia Community College and the TSA awarded certificates to 51 airport screeners who completed the homeland security program offered at the College.
At the February 27th ceremony, Dr. Gail O. Mellow, LaGuardia’s President, praised the “perfect marriage” between the College and the TSA, and the students’ achievements. “TSA really believes that knowledge, education and skills make an extraordinary difference in the ability of the employees at our nation’s airports to do a superior job,” she said. “I am proud of your achievements and look forward to you continuing your educational endeavors.”
The TSA officers, who work at LaGuardia and JFK Airports, successfully completed the program that comprised three, three-credit courses in homeland security; intelligence and security management; and transportation and border security. More than half have opted to take the next big step: enter an associate’s degree track this spring. With their nine credits, they will next enroll in an introduction to criminal justice course offered by LaGuardia’s criminal justice program, and in the fall they can continue their studies at the College.”
Sabrina Bojko-Sosa, a TSA airport screener at LaGuardia Airport, said she decided to pursue a degree in criminal justice after taking the course. “I never really knew what I wanted to do,” she said, “but after taking the intelligence and security management course I have decided that I would like a career in intelligence analysis.”
After the introductory course, Sabrina said she plans on enrolling in LaGuardia’s criminal justice program, then transferring to John Jay College of Criminal Justice to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Gale Rossides, the Deputy Administrator of the TSA, hailed the officers for the vital role they play in homeland security. “Standing here in the shadow of the World Trade Center brings home to me that you are really in the bull’s eye,” she said. “What you do everyday in New York to make sure every person who gets on a plane reaches their destination safely is really heroic.”
Elsie Torres is one of those heroes. After her sister lost her life on September 11, she left Puerto Rico and joined the TSA. “I had to do something,” said Elsie, who is planning on continuing her education. “Now I am on the front line fighting terrorism.”
LaGuardia, in the fall of 2010, was one of 25 community colleges, and the only one in New York State, to join the program that was in 29 airports. In the fall of 2011, the program was expanded to include 71 airports with 62 college partners and students participating from all 50 states.
Since its inception, an estimated 25,025 TSA employees have enrolled in the program. At the end of 2011, more than 600 TSA officers earned a certificate.
“We are going to make TSA a world-class counter-terrorist organization,” said Ms. Rossides, “and giving our people the tools like this program is the key part of that strategy.”
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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.