Director of Admissions for Fairfield Bellarmine Nakia Letang, along with her fellow Bellarmine leaders, have begun to shape the first-ever incoming class for Fairfield Bellarmine. Fairfield Bellarmine is described in a press release from Sept. 23, 2022 as a two-year associate’s degree program that is designed to bring a more accessible Jesuit higher education to students in Connecticut, specifically in the Bridgeport region.  

With that, Letang and the Bellarmine leadership team have been hard at work to create the new class, which aims to bring a valuable education to roughly 100 students according to the “academics” tab of the Bellarmine website. On the same page, it reads that “Fairfield Bellarmine will welcome ~200 students annually” in the Fall of 2024 and beyond.

“We are still in the process of building the first incoming class for the Bellarmine Campus. We continue to see lots of interest from students in the local and greater Connecticut region,” Letang shared. “Students and families are excited and we look forward to welcoming our students into the Fairfield community.”

On Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, Letang traveled to Bullard Havens High School in Bridgeport, Conn. to share with three applicants the news that they were admitted into the Bellarmine program. 

One of the Bullard Havens High School seniors who was admitted to the program by Letang in person, Ceanna Ferguson, shared in a video attached to the press release, “I am very grateful, I’m really excited!”

Ferguson’s excitement aligns with the excitement of many other applicants, who are well-represented from different high schools in the area. According to the press release, applicants hail from 14 public high schools in Connecticut, four technical high schools, four Catholic schools as well as one private school.

The students who attend the Bellarmine program will immerse themselves academically into the Magis Core curriculum while also pursuing one of four major academic tracks as part of the associate’s degree: Business, Computer Science, Health Studies and Liberal Studies. After graduating from Fairfield Bellarmine, students will have the opportunity to transfer their credits to a four-year university, which will allow them to pursue a bachelor’s degree if they choose.  

Kevin O’Brien, S.J., the Vice Provost and Executive Director of Fairfield Bellarmine, shared the leadership team’s commitment to student success.

“The curriculum in four tracks—business, computer science, health studies and liberal studies—was approved last year, so we are focusing on how that curriculum will be delivered, both with exceptional faculty and academic and technology support,” O’Brien commented. 

To Letang, the ultimate goal of the associate’s degree program serves to help students enjoy what they are learning and develop skills that will help them become leaders in their intended fields. “At the core, my hope is that we will have been able to effectively create an environment that truly supports and nurtures the identities, gifts and talents of every student joining the Bellarmine campus,” Letang stated.

Although the Bellarmine program will educate students through its various academic tracks, it also works as a way for students to “find connections, a sense of belonging, excitement for learning and a supportive community to help them accomplish beyond what they could have imagined for themselves,” as Letang shared.

“Fairfield’s commitment to advance access to our values-based, student-centric, outcomes focused education will benefit students enrolled in the two-year associate’s degree program at Fairfield Bellarmine, and will provide greater opportunities and pathways to achievement to these students of promise,” Fairfield University Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Jennifer Anderson, stated. 

The new Fairfield University campus is continuing to near completion in its renovation. The original press release in September of last year announced that the new campus would be occupying the former St. Ambrose School, but would come with renovations to modernize the space.

O’Brien made clear the upcoming goals of how the space will turn out.

“Renovations of the former St. Ambrose parish property—the home of Fairfield Bellarmine—are underway. We are renovating four buildings for our first year, to provide state-of-the-art facilities for our students, faculty and staff,” he stated.

He continually spoke to the efforts of Fairfield University’s Facilities Management team, who oversees the construction of new facilities and buildings both on—and off—campus. 

“This is a challenging project because we are renovating a 100-year-old property, but we are excited about blending the old and the new on our Bridgeport campus. Thanks to our colleagues in facilities management, we are on schedule for a Labor Day opening.”

Anderson explained what specific parts of the facility are being reconstructed into spaces for learning.

“The renovations for the Bellarmine Campus are being completed for the adaptive re-use of the rectory, church, convent and garage at the former St. Ambrose Church,” she shared. “Construction activities have included sitework, the installation of new utility lines and demolition.”

With the first Bellarmine class set to utilize the new campus’s opportunities in the fall, Letang and her fellow leaders look forward to a “radically hospitable Fairfield welcome” to all the students who will be joining the historic first step into Fairfield Bellarmine.

The Mirror will continue to report on news and updates regarding Fairfield Bellarmine as the projected opening of Labor Day draws closer. 

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