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University Pathways Program

A Post University and EdAdvance Collaboration


The University Pathways Program (UPP) at Post University in collaboration with EdAdvance is an 11-month program that provides comprehensive transition services for learners of all exceptionalities aged 17-22. The UPP program at Post offers two distinct pathways for learners to reach their transition goals in an appropriate cohort with the necessary supports. Both pathways are aligned with the Connecticut Core Transitions Skills.

The University Students Pathway

The University Students Pathway program is for learners who have the cognitive capacity to complete university level work. This pathway provides support in the areas including, but not limited to, executive functioning, employment/vocational training, social skills, and/or independent living. 

The Emerging Students Pathway

The Emerging Students Pathway program is for fully supported learners with goals focused on future outcomes in their own community. This pathway provides support in the areas including, but not limited to, functional academics, executive functioning, independent living, social skills and/or employment/vocational training in a university setting.

Top 5 Reasons To Consider UPP

The University Pathways (UPP) program is conveniently located on the Post University campus in Waterbury, CT.

Students enjoy a full college experience with access to all Post University facilities, support services, clubs, athletic events, social opportunities, and much more.

The University Pathway offers courses for college credit. The Emerging Pathway offers the opportunity to audit a course. Small class sizes allow for a variety of learning opportunities.

The staff works with students, families, and school districts to develop an individualized program, which includes opportunities on the Post University campus, surrounding areas, and home community.

Students receive support from a certified special education teacher, a licensed clinical social worker, transition coordinators, related service providers, and community coaches.

University Pathways Program FAQ’s

What is the model for the program?
The University Pathways Program (UPP) is a full service transition program offering all special education services necessary to make progress on the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and objectives in the areas of academic, social/emotional and transition, while being on a University campus.

What is the program schedule?
The standard UPP program is from 8am-2pm beginning in July for extended school year (ESY), followed by a traditional school year schedule, August through June. The program can be individualized to meet the student’s needs.

What types of support does the program provide?
Academic, social, vocational, and recreational opportunities are all based on the Post campus. Services are delivered by certified and non-certified staff in conjunction with peer mentors.

Who are the peer mentors?
Peer mentors providing support to both the University Student and Emerging Student Pathways are well-vetted, outgoing, open-minded Psychology, Human Services, Education and Child Studies Students enrolled at Post University. These mentors are tasked with modeling unfamiliar activities, facilitating social conversation, problem-solving in and out of the classroom, and small group leadership. Students who complete the University Pathways Program and return as fully matriculating students at Post University are automatically invited to return as peer mentors for incoming UPP students.

What is the target population?
Students who are between the ages of 17 to 22 and have completed their high school graduation requirements, however still require support to reach their IEP goals for successful transition into adulthood.

Are students expected to take college classes?
Within the University Students Pathway, students are expected to enroll in one transition skill-building course as well as two for-credit courses per semester. The for-credit courses include three core required courses plus one elective course. There is an opportunity to earn up to 12 college credits in total upon completion of the program. Within the Emerging Students Pathway, students will have the opportunity to explore college learning through structured course-audit experiences as applicable or desired.

Are students expected to be independent?
Students are expected to maintain safe behavioral norms at all times while on campus. Each student must complete the intake process to determine if he/she is accepted into the program.

What are activities the students participate in?
Students have accessibility to all clubs, events and social gatherings offered by Post. Students also have the opportunity, with staff support, to plan, execute and enjoy trips into the local community.

What are the vocational opportunities?
Students have the opportunity for volunteer and paid work experiences on the Post campus and local community.

Who are the program staff?
All program staff are certified in their professional fields (special education, social work, vocational support, and other related services) and hold the appropriate licensure.

Are students in the program considered fully matriculated Post students?
While students in the University Students Pathway program do have the opportunity to earn college credits during their time in the University Pathways Program, a matriculated enrollment status is reserved for students who complete the UPP program, are awarded their high school diploma, apply, and are accepted into Post University as a full or part-time main campus or online student.

How do students apply?
The University Pathways Program takes pride in working with all stakeholders throughout the intake process. The program only accepts applications that are completed in collaboration with the family and school district. Start by contracting your school district staff.

Who do I contact if I have further questions?
Please feel free to contact Alyssa Pagano, Program Chair or Kara Kirkegard via [email protected] with any program questions.

University Pathways Program Calendars

Please download a PDF of the following:

University Pathways Program Staff

Alyssa Pagano
Program Chair
Alyssa Pagano is the Program Chair of the University Pathways Program. Prior to joining us at Post, Alyssa worked as a Direct Care Counselor supporting adolescents with their life skills and also as a School Social Worker in the Ridgefield Public School system supporting high school students with their learning and behavioral needs. Alyssa earned her bachelor’s degree in human services from Southern Connecticut State University (where she was also a 4-year student athlete) and her Master of Social Work from Sacred Heart University.

Kara Kirkegard
UPP Coordinator
Kara Kirkegard is the Coordinator for the University Pathways Program and has been with UPP since the onset in 2019. She completed her Special Education studies at Saint Joseph’s University and Educational Leadership studies at Central Connecticut State University. Prior to working at UPP, Kara was a special education teacher at Ridgefield High School. While in Ridgefield, she taught academic as well as life and vocational skills with a strong focus on supporting students to generalize those skills in the community environment. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family.

Ashley Schultz
Special Education Teacher/BCBA
Ashley Schultz is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and certified special education teacher.  She is also the Assistant Director of Behavioral Services at EdAdvance.  Ashley received her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Comprehensive Special Education at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and completed her coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis through the Florida Institute of Technology, becoming board certified in 2012.  Ashley has provided services across a variety of settings and is passionate about improving her students’ quality of life, fostering collaborative relationships with colleagues and families, and mentoring young professionals in their pursuit of a career in behavior analysis/special education.  Outside of work, Ashley enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, boating on Candlewood Lake, and vacationing in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.

Karen Drumm
Speech and Language Pathologist
Karen Drumm is the Speech Language Pathologist for the University Pathways Program at Post University.  With 25 years of dedicated experience, Karen has worked in a variety of settings, from schools to private practice, where she has provided speech and language services to individuals ranging in ages from children to adults.  Karen completed her undergraduate degree at Manhattan College and obtained her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Lehman College.  Outside of work, Karen enjoys hiking, golfing, and attending sporting events with her family and friends.

James Andrew Reel
Operations Assistant
James Andrew Reel is a community coach for the University Pathways Program and has been with UPP since the onset in 2019.  After graduating Pomperaug High School in Southbury, Connecticut, James attended the University of Connecticut at Avery Point and Storrs.  Prior to joining the University Pathways Program, James worked in the Ridgefield Public School System. Outside of work, James lives a very active lifestyle in which he coaches Baseball at Pomperaug High School.

Rita Bacon
Community Coach
Rita Bacon has been with the University Pathways Program at Post University since the onset in 2019 as a Community Coach. She is committed to the students at UPP; providing support to help them achieve their individual goals. She graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a finance degree, but education is where her passion lies. She worked in the New Fairfield school district for 15 years as a mentor in the Special Friends program and a paraeducator.  Outside of work, Rita enjoys time spent with her family and friends, traveling, cooking, gardening and is an avid sports fan.

Ebo Dadzie
Community Coach
Ebo Dadzie is a community coach for the University Pathways Program. Ebo graduated from Crosby high school in Waterbury going on to study Community Health and psychology at Western Connecticut State University. Prior to UPP, Ebo worked with individuals with traumatic brain injuries; helping them achieve their academic, vocational and personal goals. Outside of work, Ebo enjoys an active lifestyle, volunteering, and mentoring young adults.

 Lisa Gelinas
Community Coach
Lisa Gelinas is a Community Coach for the University Pathways Program. Prior to joining UPP, Lisa worked in the Bristol School system for ten years as a Special Education Para Educator before joining the UPP team. She is very patient and passionate in helping her students successfully reach their goals. In her free time, you will find Lisa spending time with her family and friends. She enjoys reading, baking, hiking and watching her daughter play basketball on the Unified Sports team in Wolcott.

Stephanie Hardwick
Community Coach
Stephanie Hardwick is a Community Coach for the University Pathways Program. She previously worked as a case manager in an office in Waterbury. Stephanie obtained her bachelor’s in Human Services from Post University and is now a grad student here studying Counseling. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, baking and doing anything outdoors. She also loves spending time with her friends and family, but most of all her three dogs.

Maryssa Liptak
Community Coach
Maryssa Liptak has been a Community Coach in the University Pathways Program.  Prior to joining UPP, She worked with children, adolescents, and adults in the education and human development field. She is very passionate about helping others in need and is committed to supporting the students of UPP to successfully transition and reach their academic goals. She is very excited to continue her career here and further her education. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as her dog and parrot.

Jody Minotti
Director of Regional and Transition Initiatives at EdAdvance
Jody Minotti has been with the University Pathways Program at Post University since the onset in 2019 as the Director. Within this role, he serves as the administrator to UPP as well as oversees other regional and state special education work for the agency. Prior to working for EdAdvance, Jody has spent over 20 years in various administrative and teaching roles across various grade levels and districts. Jody completed his undergraduate at Plymouth State College, and graduate/administrative work at Fairfield and Sacred Heart Universities. Outside of work Jody enjoys exercising, cooking/eating, playing and coaching sports, and spending time with his family.



For additional information, contact:
Kara Kirkegard​
UPP Coordinator
Alyssa Pagano
Program Chair
email: [email protected]