Weather Forecast


Students, mentors team up to strive for success

Rosemount Rotary member Nickie Carrigan, right, and Rosemount High School senior Netzy Garay have been paired up in STRIVE, Rotary’s mentoring program.

Netzy Garay has a lot on her plate. She’s a senior at Rosemount High School, a leader in her church youth group, works more than 20 hours a week and was on the cheer team. She’s also supposed to be choosing what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

It’s a lot for the teenager to handle.

“It can be overwhelming,” said Garay.

At the beginning of the year, assistant principal Kim Budde identified Garay as a good candidate for Rosemount Rotary’s STRIVE program. The program pairs adult mentors with seniors to help them succeed in their final year of high school.

STRIVE is an acronym for Students Taking Renewed Interest Valuing Education. This is the third year the Rosemount Rotary Club has done the program. The Farmington Rotary Club offers a STRIVE program to Farmington High School students as well.

Garay has been partnered with Nickie Carrigan, owner of the Warehouse Fitness Studio. STRIVE students and mentors began meeting in October, and for Carrigan and Garay a fast friendship formed.

“I love her. We have a lot in common,” said Garay of Carrigan.

Their commonalities include being short, a love for helping people, participating on cheer teams and fun personalities. Carrigan said their time together goes by fast because they have so much.

“I get a lot out of it every time I go,” said Carrigan.

The idea behind STRIVE is to provide students who could use a little more support from an adult mentor. For Garay, having Carrigan in her corner has helped her focus on her goals and what actions she needs to do to meet them. Garay has set a goal to get the most improved GPA among the group of 12 Rosemount STRIVE students.

Interested in psychology, Garay hopes to attend Inver Hills Community College in the fall. In early December, STRIVE students and their mentors visited Inver Hills and Dakota County Technical College to learn what the campuses have to offer.

Garay said the college visit helped her realize all the opportunities that exist out there. She plans to get her generals out of the way at Inver and then transfer to a four-year school. She’s interested in North Dakota State University because the school has a good psychology program.

Overcoming obstacles

Garay’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico more than 10 years ago to give their three children a better education. Garay has two older brothers. Her oldest brother is a medical student at the University of Houston and her middle brother owns an auto repair shop after completing his education at Dakota County Technical College.

Garay said neither of her parents speaks English well and so it’s hard for them to help her with things like college admission forms or to offer much advice on classes. For those types of things, Carrigan has been a great resource.

Garay also works 20 to 30 hours a week at the Goodwill store in Apple Valley. While she loves cheer, Garay recently gave it up because she had too much on her plate. She’s focused on improving her grades to get into college.

“It’s hard. I miss it so much,” said Garay.

For Carrigan, being a mentor has been a given her a chance to tap into her strengths as a motivator. Carrigan said she hopes to inspire Garay to work hard for the things she wants.

“This gives me the opportunity to be intentional about being a mentor,” said Carrigan.

A small-business owner, Carrigan joined the Rosemount Rotary Club about a year ago. At first Carrigan didn’t know what her place in the club would be but volunteering with STRIVE has changed that.

“I know this is where I’m supposed to be,” said Carrigan.

Carrigan and Garay will work together through May. Students who complete the STRIVE program are eligible to receive scholarships. If those students go on to DCTC or Inver Hills, those colleges will match the scholarship.

The Independent Town Pages will check in with Garay and Carrigan again in March and at the end of the school year to see their progress.

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'
(651) 460-6606