More than 1,600 to graduate from University of Bridgeport this week

More than 1,600 to graduate from University of Bridgeport this week

Guy Fortt has worn many hats over his lifetime, from a protective uniform as a retired firefighter to costumes he wore while appearing in television and movie hits, like The Devil Wears Prada and Law & Order. But he’s waited many years to put on a cap and gown. “My goal was to graduate before my kids,” he says.

Fortt’s dream will finally come true when he and more than 1,600 members from the University of Bridgeport Class of 2014 graduate at two separate ceremonies this week.

On Saturday, May 10, nearly 1,400 graduates will receive 719 undergraduate and 656 graduate degrees during UB’s 104th Commencement, at 10 a.m. at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will deliver the Commencement Address and receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

A separate Commencement ceremony for 228 Health Sciences majors begins 2 p.m., Monday, May 12 at the Arnold Bernhard Center. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a former X-ray technician who is now chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, will deliver the Health Sciences Commencement Address.

Graduates this year come from more than 80 countries and represent 13 schools and programs. The range of academic achievement is reflected in the diverse backgrounds and experiences of graduates, who include:

Guy Fortt, a retired Stamford, Conn.- fire fighter and movie, television, and stage actor. One of seven kids raised by a single mom, Fortt will achieve a lifelong dream on Saturday when he graduates from college before most of his four kids do, thanks to the IDEAL program, the accelerated track for adults who never finished their college education.

Lissette Alvarez, of Stratford, Conn., will graduate from the Physician Assistant Institute with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Alvarez is the recipient of the National Health Service Corps Scholarship. Upon graduation, she will work as a primary care practitioner at Optimums Health Care in Bridgeport.

Trichelle July-Lindo of Waterbury, Conn. Orphaned at six, July-Lindo was raised by a great aunt from Guyana, and says her personal experience with loss motivated her to earn a bachelor’s in psychology from UB. She will begin studying for a master’s degree at Baruch College this fall and hopes to one day counsel teenagers and young people suffering from trauma.

Class Speaker Jessica DiNatale. The psychology honors student who said she was once told she’d “never make it” through college, maintained a near-perfect GPA while juggling as many as five jobs. During her four years at UB, DiNatale committed herself to community service by helping victims of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, rebuilding a school in Ecuador with People Helping People, volunteering at animal shelters, and working as an academic tutor on campus.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,