Northampton Community College (NCC) winter graduate, Cierra Flaherty, always had the goal of becoming a police officer. She started at NCC to better her knowledge of the field and make herself more marketable when entering her career, but her path to graduation was anything but smooth sailing. 

Flaherty started college at NCC in 2014, but shortly after, she found out she was expecting a baby, in an abusive relationship, and had to drop out. “I was only 18, and so nervous. I decided to go back in 2018 because as a single mom, I wanted to create a better life for myself and for my daughter, Summer.” 

Once she began her studies, she realized how passionate she was about the field of criminal justice on a whole. “I fell in love with the major I chose because I loved learning about every aspect of criminal justice. The most unique thing about the program is the professors, who clearly care about teaching and helping their students strive to be their best. I never would have made it through without all of them,” Flaherty says. 

NCC helped her get the financial aid she needed to attend, but even with that hurdle cleared, challenges in Flaherty’s personal life made attending college difficult. She struggled through her second pregnancy, feeling sick most of the time. When her son, Greyson, was born, he had ongoing health issues.  

“I’m surprised I made it through, but I did! And I’ve never been so proud of myself.”  

After hearing about an opportunity from NCC Criminal Justice Professor, Vertel Martin, she recently landed a position at the Lehigh County Jail as a booking officer. “I love it there. It’s amazing!” She continues to learn while working in the criminal justice field and hopes to stay there and work her way up to a full-time position, with the dream of becoming a police officer still on her mind.  

“My experiences at NCC made me a better mom, develop a love for school, and they helped me gain access to jobs that allow me to continue to support my family,” Flaherty beams as she looks ahead to her bright future with her husband and two children by her side.