Student Success Story: Serena Seepersaud
From CTRA Scholar to Goodwin University Student
Serena Seepersaud is a world traveler who immigrated from Alness, Guyana, to America at the age of four. An accomplished graduate of Connecticut River Academy (CTRA), Serena earned over 30 tuition-free college credits (the equivalent of a year of college courses) while still attending her magnet high school. After graduation, Serena transferred her college credits to Goodwin University, where she continues her academic success. Serena’s student success series is a three-part sequence that outlines the many obstacles Serena has spectacularly overcome. This is her story.
Serena Seepersaud was born in Alness, Guyana. When she was a toddler, animals roamed the streets and the scent of curry cooking carried throughout her small community. Calypso and Indo-Caribbean music echoed far beyond the walls and windows where the music originated, and the sounds swirled and swayed with the wind. Rubbish burned right in residential back yards, and recycling was unheard of. Cars flew 80 miles an hour down dark, undeveloped lanes, and there were no lampposts in sight.
Located on the northern mainland, Guyana has the lowest literacy rate in South America. So for Serena, an avid reader, immigrating with a family friend to America when she was four years old couldn’t have come at a better time.
Guyana is abundant in awe-inspiring rivers, lakes, and streams, and the country’s name means “the land of many waters” in its native Amerindian language. By small coincidence, years later, Serena chose to attend a magnet high school called Connecticut River Academy (CTRA). Across the Caribbean Sea, 2,628 miles away from her hometown, Serena found a new home within the walls of her high school.
Community-Focused. Eco-friendly Initiatives with Impact.
Just as America introduced Serena to garbage removal systems, speed limits, and street lights, Connecticut River Academy furthered Serena’s curiosity about sustainability and taught her how to fight for environmental justice. Prior to attending CTRA, Serena knew she loved the environment, but had not yet discovered the full impact of the term “climate crisis.”
“It wasn’t until I went to an environmentally themed school that I became aware of all of the issues out there, and I was just not okay with it,” she said sternly. “Once I became more familiar with the issues, I thought I have to do something about it, and CTRA made me realize I can take action.”
And take action she did.
As a former member of her Environmental Activist Club, Serena was part of a group of eco-friendly-focused students who lobbied at the capitol building in downtown Hartford. The students were successful in their efforts to stop the abolishment of the state’s Bottle Bill that would have eliminated the five-cent return on recyclable cans in Connecticut. With a goal of encouraging others to recycle, the students were sound in their conviction that not only would the recycler prosper from a return rate, but the climate and its encompassed community would prevail as well.
“When I think of the CTRA community, I think of the Earth- Magnet Themed Day when we had outside community members come into the school,” Serena reminisced. “Everybody was mingling together, no matter what grade they were in, no matter how old they were, and we were all working on common goals, whether it be leading thought-provoking discussions on the harmful effects of plastic or helping to clean the Connecticut River.”
Whatever the cause explored and debated within the confines of the classrooms, it was evident that there was a scholarly society, a pre-collegiate culture of sorts, that hummed alongside the high fives, the “hey’s” and the hugs given in passing in the hallways. “I liked the community at CTRA the most,” Serena stated with a strong sentiment, “You felt like you belonged there no matter what.”
Learn more about Connecticut River Academy today!
Curious about the student support Serena received at CTRA? Check out part two of her student success series!
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.