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Forsyth Tech Student Attends State of the Union Address

January 2011 - Winston-Salem, NC

On Wednesday, January 19th, while driving to meet her daughter for lunch, Forsyth Technical Community College student, Kathy Proctor, received a call from the White House. The call was an invitation to share the First Lady's box during President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25th. "I was totally surprised by this amazing and unexpected invitation. It's such an honor," the second-year biotech student exclaimed.

The 55-year-old single mother of twin 18-year old daughters first drew the President's attention on December 6, 2010. The President made a visit to Forsyth Tech on that day as part of the college's 50th birthday celebration. Prior to addressing a group of students, staff, faculty and local business leaders on the important role Forsyth Tech and other community colleges play in "giving students the skills and training they need to get good jobs," the President toured the school's Biotechnology classrooms. At that time, Proctor explained to the President that she had been employed in the struggling furniture industry for 30 years, but had decided to "retrain for a new career" in biotechnology because she recognized it as an emerging field that will offer the jobs of the future.

On Tuesday, January 25th, while sitting in the gallery as First Lady Michelle Obama's guest, Proctor listened along with a national and international audience as the President dedicated a portion of his State of the Union Address to reemphasize the vital role Forsyth Tech and other community colleges play in today's fast-changing economy. "Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina," the President stated during his address. "Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams, too. As Kathy said, 'I hope it tells them to never give up.'"

The Forsyth Tech family noted the significance of the day. "It was really great recognition for the college and our faculty and staff, and really special for our students to see one of their peers recognized in one of the highest profile events nationally," notes Dr. Gary Green, President of Forsyth Tech. "It makes more people aware of how Forsyth Tech in this area, and community colleges nationally, are really promoting a national agenda surrounding competitiveness and innovation. I think it was a really special day for the college."

Proctor indicated that this recognition is well deserved. "I came up here for my first biology class and I really liked the teachers," Proctor says. "The teachers here really care about the students' learning. They're there anytime you have questions. There are just really good people here at Forsyth Tech. And they really have a good biotechnology program here. They work very closely with the North Carolina BioNetwork. We can go there and take any classes for free."

CG recently conducted a development assessment for Forsyth Technical Community College. For more information regarding Ms. Proctor's attendance at the State of the Union Address, President Obama's visit to the college and/or the college's programs, please visit the college website at or contact Dr. Sharon Covitz at

March 2011


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