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DMACC Grad Redirects Teaching Skills to Homeland Security

There are almost 50,000 Transportation Security Administration workers at more than 450 locations nationwide. (Transportation Security Administration)
There are almost 50,000 Transportation Security Administration workers at more than 450 locations nationwide. (Transportation Security Administration)
May 13, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa – A former kindergarten teacher decided to change careers and pursue airport security work.

Now, she's the first graduate of an online credit program offered by Des Moines Area Community College and the Transportation Security Administration.

A 35-year-old non-traditional student, Danielle Nicol took online courses while working as a TSA training instructor and educational coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security.

She says the online class structure is what made it possible for her to balance work, school and life.

"It was significant for me because I ended up being the first TSA Associates Program student to finish a degree with DMACC and then, I was able to finish an associate's degree in criminal justice," she relates.

Nicol traveled from her home in Columbus, Ohio, to Des Moines earlier this month to accept her diploma during graduation exercises. The certificate program is open to all full and part-time TSA employees who have been with the agency for at least six months.

Nicol pursued the criminal justice degree through DMACC after completing the TSA nine-credit certificate. She says the fact that TSA pays for the tuition and textbooks made it an easy decision.

"I definitely joined the program with the idea of the free education,” she states. “Now, it's good information that expands on what we do here at TSA. and then I enjoyed the classes, so I just kept going."

The DMACC Criminal Justice degree program with Homeland Security also prepares students to work in other positions, including law enforcement, intelligence, emergency management and risk assessment.

Disclosure: Des Moines Area Community College contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Education, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA