2023 OAKS scholarship recipients

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(ABC 6 News) – The road to higher education is different for everyone and depending on outside factors such as abuse, neglect, and hardships, it can make the road a lot more difficult.

On Thursday, seven students were honored with an OAKS scholarship because of their perseverance through adversity and staying the course to seek a better life through education. Each story told was an inspiration to never give up and you can overcome anything.

Seven outstanding young women were honored at tonight’s ceremony.

  • Lydia Thompson
  • Rachal Thornton
  • Janelle Asiedu
  • Keira Pape
  • Tiana Aleman
  • Makinlee Forsell
  • Alejandra Hermosillo Amezcua

Each looking to pursue a dream. Each with their own personal story.

Like Rachal Thornton, who lost her dad to stage 4 cancer when she was five years old. After her family lost their home, she experienced extreme anxiety.

So, winning the OAKS scholarship carries even more meaning.

“It means being able to spend time with my grandparents as they’re getting older, it means being able to not worry about funds so much at college and just focus on my studies,” Thornton said.

Thornton is studying computer science at RCTC and is looking forward to her life ahead.

Another student who overcame adversity was Makinlee Forsell. Not only was she dealing with unstable family relationships, but she spent time in the hospital.

Through it all, she still gives back to the family that supported her.

“I was like, how am I going to pay for college and all of that, and help support my family, take care of niece, all this was a really great opportunity that I’m blessed that I was able to be one of the recipients for the scholarship,” Forsell said.

After her general studies, Forsell wants to study radiology at Mayo Clinic School of Science.

This is the 23rd year the OAKS scholarship has provided funds to help students succeed against all odds. Since then, this community event has awarded almost $300,000 in scholarships and recognized more than 175 students.

RCTC has partnered with Zumbro Valley Mental Health as well as the community, to make these scholarships to RCTC possible.