OAKS Scholarship Recipient: Rachal Thornton

(ABC 6 News) – Each year, the RCTC Foundation awards OAKS Scholarships to students who have overcome tremendous odds in their lives. OAKS stands for Overcoming Adversity, Keeping Strong.

This year, the foundation presented seven OAKS Scholarships at a ceremony on October 12. ABC 6 News is a proud sponsor of the event, and is sharing the stories of this year’s scholarship recipients. One of those recipients is Rachal Thornton.

Since the age of six, Rachal Thornton has lived in Lake City, MN with her mother and grandparents. Family means a lot to Rachal, which is part of the reason she chose to continue her education at RCTC; so she could stay close to home.

“My mom and I are very close, probably closer than a lot of people,” said Rachal.

Rachel’s mom, Lisa, nominated her for the OAKS Scholarship. “Of course I, as her mother, thought she would be the perfect candidate,” said Lisa. 

When Rachel was four years old, her father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bone Cancer. He passed away when Rachel was five.

“I don’t think I really understood the full effect of what was happening, but I understood that he was sick,” said Rachal.

“Hospice quickly moved in and our lives turned upside down. She had a lot of adjusting to do at a young age,” said Lisa.

His illness was only the beginning.

“Rachal recognized at a young age that her life was different,” said Lisa.

“At my elementary school, they had a breakfast with your dad thing and I never had anyone to come with me to that,” said Rachal.

“That type of feeling, people don’t realize how hard it is on a child,” said Lisa.

“So then, my mom actually ended up coming with me. I appreciate my mom a lot for stepping up like that,” said Rachal.

School became an escape for Rachal growing up. “It was easier to focus on school and friends than anything,” said Rachal.

Now Rachal is studying computer science.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities in the future and I’m excited to see where it takes me,” said Rachal.

If she could, Rachal would give her dad a message.

“I would probably say thank you for all that you did do for me while you were here. I think he would be happy and I think he would be proud,” said Rachal.

“I don’t think I’d have to say anything to him at all if he was here. He’s smiling brightly down upon her, she’s got a lot of traits of him in her and I’m sure he’s anxious to see what happens in the future,” said Lisa.

If you’d like to donate to the RCTC Foundation to help out future OAKS Scholarship recipients, click here. (https://www.rctc.edu/foundation/)