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Student Finds Her IDEAL Inspiration

Giselle Rivera spent years in the banking industry, training others to be her boss. When she decided to go back to school and get her degree, Rivera looked no further than her brother, Andrew.

“We were having a conversation about school and his plans, and he said he was planning to take some time off. It was disheartening,” said Rivera. Andrew is a junior at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk.

Rivera knows the dangers of taking time off. Years ago, she attended Norwalk Community College , but working three part-time jobs to support herself led her to choose to take some time off. She didn’t return.

Rivera landed a job with Chase Bank , where she ended up spending her days training managers who would be her boss. She wasn’t in love with the industry and grew to resent her position, knowing she wouldn’t move up the ladder without either a degree or decades in the trenches.

So Rivera decided the best thing to do, for herself and as an inspiration for her brother, was to go back to school. She enrolled in the University of Bridgeport’s IDEAL program (an accelerated adult completion program)pursuing a degree in General Studies with a Business Concentration. She’s also going for a certificate in Human Resource Management.

Finding time to get her degree was helped by a move out of banking and into hospitality. Rivera now works the phones at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich . She said she loves the change and being the helpful voice on the other end of the line.

Rivera expects to graduate in 2014 if all goes well. The flexible scheduling in the IDEAL program allows her to mold the course load to her time constraints. She also loves the online learning.

“I type way faster than I talk,” she said, laughing in the Hyatt’s atrium. She points to the trees and notes they are all real. Rivera says she absolutely loves the work environment there.

However, one day Rivera wants to be in business for herself. It’s a long-term plan 25 years down the road, but she would like to run a nonprofit. Her own brand of hospitality demands she gives back to her community.

No matter where her career path takes her, she smiles at the future with the same philosophy that took her from Chase Bank to the Hyatt. “Someone is going to want my skills,” she said.

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