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Mentor story has happy ending

STRIVE student Netzy Garay and her mentor Nickie Carrigan pose for picture at the Rosemount Rotary awards presentation. For completing the STRIVE program, Garay received a $500 scholarship.

While she still has a few weeks of school left, Netzy Garay is proud of what she accomplished her senior year at Rosemount High School. She started the year feeling lost and unsure of what the future would hold.

She no longer feels that way, and Garay credits Rosemount Rotary’s STRIVE program for the change in perspective.

STRIVE is an acronym for Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education. At the beginning of the school year, assistant principal Kim Budde identified Garay as a good candidate for the program. This is the third group of Rosemount High School students to go through STRIVE.

Garay and this year’s other 11 STRIVE students concluded their time as part of the mentoring program last week. For completing the program Garay and the other students received $500 scholarships.

Garay had hoped to win an additional $500 for having the most improved grade point average but that honor went to another STRIVE student. While slightly disappointed, Garay said she gained way more than she thought possible by participating in the program.

“It was a really good experience,” said Garay.

Specifically, Garay said the program provided practical skills including goal setting, interviewing and professionalism. Garay also appreciated having additional adults in her life to provide different points of view.

“Through the mentors’ stories I learned that if things don’t go the way I planned, they will still work out,” said Garay.

Rosemount Rotary member Nickie Carrigan, mentored Garay. Garay said she’s found a lifelong friend in Carrigan.

“She’s been a great mentor,” said Garay.

Carrigan said she enjoyed getting to know Garay and is impressed with the hard work she put in this year.

Specifically, Carrigan said Garay showed her dedication to improving herself during their mock interview session. Carrigan said Garay took the exercise seriously by dressing in a professional manner and having her resume ready.

“She took it seriously and came prepared. She valued the experience and made the opportunity count,” said Carrigan.

As the days of her high school career come to a close, Garay has college on her mind. Garay’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico and she’s here under the federal DREAM Act. That means Garay is not eligible for traditional financial assistance for college.

At least for her first two years of college, Garay plans to attend Inver Hills Community College. Inver Hills will match the Rosemount Rotary $500 scholarship, meaning Garay will have $1,000 for her first semester of college. Garay has been working with her school counselor to find additional funding sources.

After she’s completed her generals, Garay hopes to go onto the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She’s interested in psychology and veterinary sciences.

To get some practical experience in both fields, Garay plans to do some volunteering this summer. Garay said the STRIVE mentors inspired her to volunteer to gain experience. She also plans to work and save money to help pay for her college tuition.

Overall, Garay said her STRIVE experience was good and she’s thankful to Rosemount Rotary for providing the program.

“I hope they keep doing it for many years because it really made a big difference,” said Garay.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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