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Ref: Georgia school to offer homeland security degree

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SSU readying students for security, emergency careers

Coastal Empire
JENEL FEW | Monday, October 1, 2007 at 12:30 am

Students at Savannah State University are out to save the world.

This semester, nine of them are pursuing a degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The new bachelor of arts program is one of about 20 in the nation and the only one of its kind in Georgia.

Educators say devastating events and natural disasters in the U.S. and across the world have heightened public awareness to the threat of major emergencies and sparked student interest in homeland security and emergency management issues.

"People realize more and more the need for advanced planning for natural disasters and terrorism," said Emily Bentley, assistant professor and director of homeland security and emergency management at SSU.

Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, most people who worked in emergency management jobs had backgrounds in management or criminal justice, Bentley said.

Now there is a desire to be trained to respond better.

Savannah State sophomore Crystal Freyermuth has that desire.

"I was in 11th grade when (Sept. 11) happened," Freyermuth said. "Everyone went home that day with a new outlook - like this can really happen."

When she received a mailing announcing Savannah State University's Homeland Security and Emergency Management degree program, she signed up.

Agonizing hours spent watching television news footage of stranded and suffering Hurricane Katrina victims made Justan Holloway switch his major from marine biology.

"I would like to work for (the Federal Emergency Management Agency)," Holloway said. "I remember watching Katrina victims on TV and wondering why help took so long to come. Now, I understand how things have to work together on the state, local and national level, and I want to help."

Some students, such as Trevis Holder, were drawn to the program after leaving the military so they can prepare for jobs in intelligence.

"I served in Saudi Arabia and dealt with different cultures, and I know more now than I did when I was in the service," he said.

© 2007 SavannahNOW and the Savannah Morning News.

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