Local leads first crop of LIU Riverhead graduates

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | LIU graduate and valedictorian Alicia Burt and husband Nat Burt outside their home in Riverhead Tuesday afternoon before the graduation ceremony.

Just three years ago, a Riverhead resident interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education from Long Island University would have had to trek back and forth to Brentwood or Brookville to attend most classes.

But since LIU at Riverhead opened its doors, students have another option much closer to home.

Long Island University began offering undergraduate classes in education and homeland security management at its Riverhead campus, located on the Suffolk County Community College site in Northampton, in September 2009.

And on Tuesday, 13 students received bachelor’s degrees from LIU at a ceremony at Giorgio’s in Baiting Hollow, the first baccalaureate commencement in campus history.

“We’ve really gotten to know each other,” valedictorian Alicia Burt said of her LIU/Riverhead classmates. “It’s almost like a little family.”

Ms. Burt, who received her degree in elementary education, said one reason she chose the school was because it was just minutes from her Fishel Avenue home. She decided to return to school several years after obtaining an associate degree from Suffolk County Community College and had first considered St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

“It was a coincidence. One of my teachers said you should really look into LIU,” Ms. Burt said. “Then I got a letter in the mail saying LIU just opened a Riverhead campus.”

LIU/Riverhead is the only school east of St. Joseph’s to offer a B.A. in education.

“With the conferral of our first bachelor’s degrees, our partnership with Suffolk County Community College has come to fruition. This is an historic achievement for both institutions,” said Jennifer Browne, associate provost for LIU at Riverhead. “These are the first bachelor’s degrees conferred by a private university on the East End in several years, and we look forward to serving the region with high-quality undergraduate and graduate education for many, many years to come.”

Ms. Burt, who maintained a 4.0 average during her tenure at the school, said she would recommend the program to anyone seeking a degree in education.

“It’s a very hands-on school,” she said, attributing that to the small class sizes. At LIU/Riverhead, she said, “you get that additional support that you need.”

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