Of the more than 2,500 students who received their Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) diploma on May 1, no one traveled as far as Danielle Nicol.
Nicol lives in Columbus, Ohio, and flew to Des Moines to walk across the DMACC Metro Commencement stage at Wells Fargo Arena, receive her diploma and shake hands with DMACC Board Chair Joe Pugel and the DMACC Administrators. She is one of more than 22,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees who have the opportunity to take online credit classes at DMACC. On May 1, she became the first TSA employee to earn a Criminal Justice degree through the DMACC TSA Associates program.
In 2017, TSA expanded its partnership with DMACC to provide for credit Homeland Security courses to TSA employees in 36 states and the District of Columbia, encompassing approximately 292 airports across the northern half of the United States.
“The program offers employees, like Danielle, the opportunity to work toward a Certificate of Achievement in Homeland Security and/or an Associate’s Degree in Homeland Security or a related field,” said DMACC Criminal Justice Professor and Homeland Security Certificate Program Chair Steve Barger.
The DMACC Homeland Security Certificate Program, as delivered as part of the TSA Associates Program, offers three core courses focusing on the best practices and latest techniques to deter terrorists including:
- Introduction to Homeland Security
- Intelligence Analysis and Security Management
- Transportation & Border Security
The Certificate Program is open to all full and part-time TSA employees who have been employed at least six months. TSA pays for the tuition and textbooks of employees eligible to participate. Once the TSA employee successfully completes the nine-credit certificate, he or she may have the opportunity to participate in other Homeland Security-centered courses or pursue a two-year DMACC Criminal Justice degree with a concentration in Homeland Security or related field.
“I’ve really enjoyed the classes offered through this program,” Nicol said. “The three core classes are very informative and give great insight into different aspects of Homeland Security beyond what we see at work daily with TSA.”
In the Fall semester of 2017, Danielle accepted a position with TSA as a Master Security Training Instructor and became the Education Coordinator for the Columbus, Ohio, area. She then decided with courses that were available through the TSA Associates Program, along with previous college credits and taking the remaining classes with DMACC on her own, she would earn her Associates in Arts (AA) degree in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security concentration.
“The professors, as well as the program personnel at Des Moines Area Community College, are knowledgeable, will do all they can to help you along the way, and are a pleasure to work with,” Nicol said. “All of the classes supply many different ways to learn and are well put together to balance work, school and life.”