Former Town of Southold Detective to Earn Master's Degree in
Homeland Security Management from Long Island University
Riverhead, N.Y. - For 23 years, Beth Dzenkowski served as a police officer for the Town of Southold, 13 years of that as a detective running the Police Department's Juvenile Aid Bureau. Her efforts to keep children safe earned her countless awards, including the New York State Juvenile Officer of the Year as designated by the State of New York Police Juvenile Officers Association .
Now, as she graduates with a master's degree in Homeland Security Management from Long Island University at Riverhead, Dzenkowski continues to put the best interest of children first.
When she retired nearly three years ago, Dzenkowski moved out West in the hopes of finding a new career. After reading an article about Long Island University 's fully-online Homeland Security Management Institute, she was intrigued. Enrolling in the master's program while living in Arizona, she was able to continue her studies uninterrupted when she and her husband moved back to the East Coast, dividing her time between Long Island in East Marion and Maryland.
"I'm computer challenged so it was a little hard at first," she said. "But I got through it. I liked that I had the opportunity to talk with classmates from all over the world and get their perspective."
Her graduate thesis examines how young children are affected by tragedy, most specifically Hurricane Katrina.
"It's been really fascinating work," she said.
Dzenkowski conducted surveys of schools in Texas and New York and on-site interviews at schools in Florida and Georgia where many families displaced by Katrina landed. She studied the effects the displacement had on these students, and, in particular, focused on what the effects were on the schools and their staff that enrolled these students. Not only did the students arrive in traumatized mental states, most were behind academically, due to combinations of experiencing loss of school time and learning disabilities.
Dzenkowski said the schools where the children were displaced to also experienced periods of adjustment.
"The faculty and staff were working hard to maintain teaching schedules in anticipation of future testing dates, which was made even more difficult because they have received all these additional students, many of whom have special needs that had to be met." She said that one school in Florida experienced a 21% growth in enrollment, literally overnight. "Having had no advance notice of the students' arrival, they basically set up a triage enrollment system to settle these students into classes as rapidly as possible."
After she graduates, Dzenkowski says she hopes to work in some area of homeland security that would deal either directly or indirectly with children and teens.
"Examining and assessing the needs for children to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies has been an area with little attention focused on it in this country," she said, "and one that needs much more in-depth study."
Fifty-five students are set to receive master's degrees and advanced certificates in education, fine arts and homeland security management from Long Island University at Riverhead, which opened its doors in September 2006. A special ceremony will be held at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead on May 8 and will include all students who were conferred degrees in September 2007, January 2008 and May 2008. The students are also invited to participate in the commencement exercises at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University on Mother's Day, May 11, 2008.
Posted: April 29, 2008