NCC Student Testifies Before Appropriations Committee

Blythe Serrano is only 16 years old, but already knows where she’s going in life and thanks NCC for giving her “the opportunities to get there.”

An Honors Program student who was homeschooled and enrolled at NCC at age 14, Blythe plans on becoming an epidemiologist.

She will graduate NCC in May with a degree in Honors Liberal Arts: Concentration in Math and Physics, and has been awarded a $128,000 scholarship to Northeastern University in Boston, where she’ll begin classes in the fall.

Blythe was recently invited to testify about the value of an NCC education before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee in Hartford.

She was among a diverse group of students from the state’s public universities, community colleges and Charter Oak College who shared their inspirational stories and reminded legislators of the need for increased higher education funding to help students improve their lives and find success in the state.

“When I first came to Norwalk Community College two years ago, I shared many of society’s misconceptions about community colleges,” she testified. “I was worried that my classmates would be unmotivated, my professors uncaring, and the campus unwelcoming. … It turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong!”

“By the end of my first week, I’d already auditioned for NCC’s Spring Musical and joined many on-campus communities. By the end of my first semester, I had joined the Women in STEM Club, which solidified my desire to go into a STEM field by providing a fun and supportive environment where I could work on projects ranging from a quantum levitation track to an automated hydroponics system.”

At NCC, Blythe has excelled in rigorous courses including multivariable calculus, engineering, math, physics, and public health. She’s won roles in two of the college’s musicals and become secretary of the Student Government and president of both the STEM Club and the STEAM Club.

Blythe also has become an advocate for more women to study engineering and science. “I hope to use my role to show other women and underrepresented minorities that there is a place for them in STEM,” she told the Appropriations Committee.

To share her conviction that “science and math can be fun and accessible,” she teaches other students how to create jewelry and 3-D printer projects using the digital manufacturing equipment in the college’s Makerspace.

In 2017, Blythe won first place in the NCC Foundation’s Idea Pitch Competition for inventing the Light Up Pet Collar. Her prize included a scholarship and a spot in NCC’s Summer Entrepreneurship Institute.

“There, I developed a business plan and financial plan, with which I’ve since won several pitch competitions in and outside of NCC,” she told the legislators. She has since started her own company, 4 Paws Wearable, and has created a Light Up Dog Sweater featuring color-changing LED lights for nighttime walks.

She is currently completing a Honors capstone project “investigating how microtonal music affects the human brain, and its potential for use in music therapy programs.”

Blythe feels that NCC’s rich academic offerings and extracurricular activities have prepared her to succeed at Northeastern University.

“I was a bit of a snob about community colleges and the NCC Honors Program,” she said. “But I was super surprised by my classmates and how high their goals are and how hardworking and smart and curious and creative they are.”

Contributed photo:

Blythe Serrano is shown seated, center, at table with yellow lamps.