Student Success Story: Serena Seepersaud, Part Three
A Proud Guyanese Immigrant and First-generation Goodwin Inspiration
At nine years old, Serena Seepersaud assisted in all of her household appointments. Barely able to reach the welcome window, she waited in long lines, sat in reception room chairs, and with her feet dangling, filled out countless forms for her older family members. Born to settlers originally from Guyana, Serena scheduled arrangements, translated, and transcribed for those in her family who didn’t get the privilege to carry on their education.
Although English is the official language of Guyana, many families, like Serena’s, speak with heavy Guyanese-Creole inflections, and once they moved to America, they needed her help to get by. “It made me mature a lot,” Serena reflected. “I was scheduling my own doctor’s appointments before I was 10, and it taught me how to be more responsible.” Thankfully, Serena carried this positive outlook with her into later life, and her sense of accountability tiptoed into her academics.
Serena’s mother and paternal grandmother received elementary school educations. In her family, young girls were expected to receive their instruction in the home alongside cooking pots, cleaning supplies, and their mothers. Education was not a priority for young women, and male children were thought to “get more out of school” than their female siblings. In an effort to break the gender barriers, Serena’s paternal grandmother, a wise matriarch of her family, strongly encouraged all of her grandchildren to get a proper education.
Serena’s mother and grandmother both believed their lives were mapped out from the beginning. Without choices or opinions in the matter, it was thought that the natural roles they were born to fulfill were to be mothers who took care of their homes and catered to their husbands.
However, it was under Goodwin’s influence that Serena ultimately began to navigate her own journey, one that could alter the course of her family for generations to come. “It was always instilled in me to focus on my education if I wanted to be successful in life,” Serena explained. “My mom, my grandmother, and my aunts would never let me forget how important it is to do well in school. A huge thing that I never want to forget is how fortunate I am that I attended a magnet school in America because there are so many people who do not have the opportunity to get an education. I had such a positive experience and received a quality education that now I feel like I can do whatever I want in the world because I have such strong roots here.”
Serena’s family immigrated to the United States to ultimately better their lives, a common challenge that American-born and immigrant families alike can agree is no easy feat. “I think we all just have to remember that immigrants are human too,” Serena championed. “We go through the same struggles, we feel the same emotions, and we bleed the same color blood.”
In Latin, the motto of the United States “E pluribus unum,” means “out of many, one,” and is inscribed on the national seal as well as the seals of the president, the vice president, Congress, Senate, and the Supreme Court. Its meaning is routed in inspiring togetherness during trying times. The expression reminds Americans that Lady Liberty’s light shines on all residents regardless of how, or when, their American journey came to be. For Serena, that light is shining bright, illuminating her past and guiding her path forward— all the while making her family proud, whether in her home country of Guyana, her community at Connecticut River Academy, or her family here at Goodwin University.
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Click to read Serena’s Student Success Story Part One and Part Two.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.