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Inver Hills student featured in 'State of the State' Address

When Inver Hills Community College student Antoinette McCarthy was first contacted by Gov. Mark Dayton's office, she thought she was simply being asked to share her experience in the FastTRAC program at Inver Hills. However, she quickly learned that it was Gov. Dayton who wanted to share her story in a speech.

But then the honor grew even more when McCarthy learned that it wasn't just any speech, but instead this year's State of the State Address in which Gov. Dayton highlighted McCarthy's story and how she earned her Nursing Assistant Certificate in 2010 at Inver Hills through the FastTRAC program.

McCarthy describes the whole experience as humbling and surprising.

"Because of the background I've had, I never expected anything like this," she said. "I never imagined being acknowledged by the governor let alone him using me as an example."

McCarthy was invited to attend the State of the State Address on Feb. 15 along with her mother, husband and three children. The whole family enjoyed the experience and McCarthy said her nine-year old daughter was especially in awe about the honor.

"Gov. Dayton and his staff were very warm and welcoming with my family," McCarthy said. Her mother and kids were allowed to watch the speech from an office while she and her husband sat in the balcony to hear the address live.

During the section of the address when McCarthy was mentioned, Gov. Dayton acknowledged her in the balcony and said:

"Antoinette McCarthy is another wonderful success story. She said, 'I had tried college before, but I wasn't as successful as I had hoped.' As a result, she struggled to find a decent-paying job and a career with a future.

"Now, Antoinette is poised for success. She just completed a FastTRAC program at Inver Hills Community College, receiving her Certificate as a Nursing Assistant.

"Her hard work for that certificate means she will earn, on average, nearly double what someone would at a minimum-wage medical job."

McCarthy said having success in the FastTRAC program gave her the encouragement and boost she needed to continue taking classes at Inver Hills. Being honored by the governor has given her the next boost she needs to carry on and accomplish her goal of working in the medical field one day.

"As long as I'm moving around, helping people, I'm at my best," she said. "That's when I'm happiest."

To read more about McCarthy's story visit the Minnesota FastTRAC website and read the article provided by the Joyce Foundation: http://mnfasttrac.org/docs/Antoinette_McCarthy.pdf.

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