"We can find success in the greater world beyond PCCC because of the skills we adopted here."
June 13, 2023

Future Racecar Designer Crosses PCCC Finish Line as Valedictorian

“If you had told me a couple of years ago, that I would be standing here as valedictorian of this class, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Skyler Novotny in his valedictory speech at PCCC’s 51st Commencement last May 25th.

As a high school student, Skyler was not particularly motivated and spent those years more or less on cruise control. But as a PCCC student, the racecar enthusiast revved up, shifted into high gear, and crossed the finish line as a valedictorian of the PCCC Class of 2023.

Skyler graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, an AS degree in Engineering Science, with highest honors, and the Graduate Achievement Award in Engineering Science.

Skyler at PCCC’s 51st Commencement on May 25, 2023 at the Main Campus in Paterson.

As a high school student, Skyler was not particularly motivated and spent those years more or less on cruise control. But as a PCCC student, the racecar enthusiast revved up, shifted into high gear, and crossed the finish line as a valedictorian of the PCCC Class of 2023.

Skyler graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, an AS degree in Engineering Science, with highest honors, and the Graduate Achievement Award in Engineering Science.

Transferring to NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) to earn his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Skyler aims for a career as a Formula 1 racecar designer. “Cars are my passion,” he said. “I’ve worked on them for years.”

Skyler receives the 2023 Graduate Achievement Award in Engineering Science. Professor Michael Grinberg of the Engineering program presented the award at the May 23 ceremony.

Ironically, Skyler initially wasn’t planning to attend college at all.  He thought of joining the Air Force after high school, but then did an about face and enrolled at PCCC.   “I got more serious and wanted to do better at college than I had done in high school,” he said. It turned out that “do better” was a huge understatement.

When presenting Skyler with the Graduate Achievement Award in Engineering at the May 23 awards ceremony, Professor Michael Grinberg described Sklyer’s academic performance as “nothing short of extraordinary,” noting that his student received “all A’s in a very demanding subject as well as in every other subject.

Though a top student, Sklyer confesses that he found PCCC academically challenging. “I got all A’s, but I worked hard for them,” he said. He appreciated that challenge, as well as the small, personalized classes, and committed faculty at PCCC.

 “My professors were invested in seeing us succeed and were often available outside of class to speak about topics discussed in class or for general career advice,” added Skyler, singling out Professor Grinberg and Professor Joshua Sabatini (chemistry) as two of the PCCC faculty that particularly impressed him.

A member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Sklyer joined the STEM club, participated on the robotics team, and tutored for the STEM program.  “PCCC helped me to grow and mature,” he said, advising future PCCC students to use the resources available at PCCC. “Joining clubs and finding fun friends will make your college experience better.” 

This summer, Skyler is completing a paid internship through PSE&G, working with the Newark Community Food System to help organize a local farmer’s meetup in the City of Newark and expand their Food to Table co-op to feed 100 families.

“My teammates are great, and the leadership is really supportive and helpful,” he reported. “We plan to invite government leaders in Newark to the meetup to help start the conversation between community and government about creating more local gardens to help combat food insecurity.”

In his valedictory speech, Sklyer commended his fellow graduates with these words, “Leaving here today, whether young or old, going into the workforce or continuing your educational path…we can find success in the greater world beyond PCCC because of the skills we adopted here.

“Never stop learning or settle for less. Set goals for yourself, grab hold of success, and don’t lose sight of where you started… right here at Passaic County Community College.”