FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – With three children and a full-time job, Leigh Cerreto needed a college program that offered flexibility and speed. She found it in the University of Bridgeport’s IDEAL Program, where she will begin to earn her bachelor’s degree this summer.
“It works great with my schedule,’’ said Cerreto, who will obtain her degree from UB in two years. She also transferred credits from another university. “The classes are all at night, and it’s great for a working parent. I have classes two nights a week, which leaves me free other nights to be there for my children. The professors are great. They’re understanding and they work with your schedule.”
Cerreto will earn her degree in psychology and a certificate in criminal justice. She plans to obtain her Masters degree in criminal justice after finishing up at Bridgeport with the hope of becoming a probation officer. After starting college as a teenager interested in nursing, she completely changed her career path.
“I developed an interest in criminal justice by reading about it,’’ she said. “I became interested in juveniles and helping them get an opportunity at a better life.”
Cerreto said when she learned about the program, she knew instantaneously that it would fit with her schedule. “I like the flexibility, the professors and the time for the working mother,’’ she said. “I get out of work at 3:30 and don’t have to be at class until 6. It works perfectly for me.”
She feels Bridgeport’s professors are especially attuned to the demands of the IDEAL students, many of whom are juggling jobs, children and outside interests in addition to furthering their education.
“A lot of them are around our age,’’ Cerreto said. “They understand that you’re just not a student in school, but we’re parents and working full-time. They work along with you. They make it so it’s manageable. They’re not trying to bury you with work.”
Cerreto also enjoys the classroom diversity. Students from their early 20s to their late 50s are enrolled in the IDEAL program, which makes for engaging classroom discussions. She also feels college means more to her now than it did when she came out of high school.
“Before I took it day-by-day,’’ she said. “I was interested in education, but I was also interested in social time. Now I’m looking forward to the future and bettering my life for my family. It’s a different level of maturity. My stability is at a different level.”
Cerreto said her husband, Domenic, has been supportive as she pursues her college degree. She has boys, 15 and 8, and a daughter, 3, and has managed to keep family time a priority while attending school.
“I would recommend it to anyone,’’ Cerreto said. “Anyone who is furthering their education, or just starting out, or didn’t have the opportunity, I’d recommend going to Bridgeport.”