Student Success Story: Serena Seepersaud, Part Two
CTRA: A magnet school attracting amazing scholars
Before being accepted to Connecticut River Academy (CTRA), Serena Seepersaud was a student in one of the largest public school districts in Connecticut. In a conversation in Goodwin University’s student lounge, Serena openly shared the differences between her public school experience and her magnet school education. “First of all, the buildings were completely different,” Serena started. “The public school I attended had a brick exterior, small windows, and chipped paint. There wasn’t a lot of light that came into the classrooms, and the class sizes were big with a lot of students crammed inside. We were only learning out of textbooks, and there was nothing digital or online. But when I went to CTRA, it was completely different,” Serena recalled. “I remember looking around the magnet school and wondering why there were so many windows and why it was so bright, happy, and cheerful.”
“CTRA instilled a lot of confidence in me,” Serena stated proudly. “With the small class sizes, you got to form relationships with your teachers. The support network was so strong — the teachers, administration, and everyone continuously checked up on me.”
Serena recalled an unforgettable moment she shared with one particular teacher. “I was always striving for an A-minus,” Serena began. “And one day my teacher approached me and said ‘A-minus is a good grade, but why are you settling for that when you know that you can get an A-plus?’ I was speechless. He was right, and that really stuck with me,” she remembered. “I had the capabilities to reach that, but I wasn’t aiming for accuracy, I wasn’t striving for success, and from that point on, my grades got even better.”
Not only did Serena’s grades improve, her self-assurance did, as well. “When I started freshman year, I was really shy and turtle-like. I didn’t want to get out of my shell, I didn’t like to participate in class, and I didn’t like to share my opinions. I kept to myself and had a small group of friends,” Serena readily admitted. “And toward the end of my school year, and even after graduating, I realized that I have important things to contribute. I think that had a lot to do with teachers encouraging me,” she noted. “They gave me the skills to recognize that the things I have to say are of value and that I should feel free to voice them.”
“CTRA is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Serena made it a point to mention. “It’s so different from any other school I’ve been to. There were so many resources and there was such a heavy focus on the students. Everyone made sure the scholars were on the right track to graduate, and they genuinely cared about each and every student there.”
As a part of the high school’s early college model, Serena walked across CTRA’s commencement stage with 30 college credits (equivalent to her entire freshman year) earned tuition-free. “As a sophomore, we were required to take 099, a course specifically designed to prepare students for college,” Serena described. “Teachers instructed us on classroom settings, expectations, and college material — and that helped me a lot. I felt prepared, and more than anything, I was excited.”
Eager to continue her scholastic success, Serena transferred her credits to Goodwin University and is currently earning her associate degree in Business Administration. “Classes are flexible here,” Serena specified. “I work full time and Goodwin has online classes and night classes that are really helpful. Being able to do my work whenever I have the time is perfect. I don’t think I would have been able to go to school if not for that flexibility.”
Serena is studying at Goodwin with the goal of becoming a travel blogger, or a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) to children from foreign countries. A fan of Korean soap operas, Korean food, and anything with soy sauce and ginger, Serena hopes to start her adventures in South Korea. An admirer of the sounds and cadence of the Korean language, Serena loves the idea of working abroad and being pushed out of her comfort zone. The thought of being immersed in a completely different society indefinitely intrigues her.
Inspired by her mother and grandmother, Serena humbly credits her hard-work ethic to the women who raised her. “They always put others first,” Serena recognized. “They didn’t grow up with much in my home country of Guyana, and they worked hard to make something of themselves.” Named by her aunt after the word “serenity,” Serena’s calm, composed confidence assures all around her that in the tradition of the women before her, she will surely make something of herself too.
Learn more about Connecticut River Academy today!
Interested in reading more about Serena’s inspirational immigration story? Check out part three of her student success story today!
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.