21st Oaks Scholarship event goes virtual | KAALTV.com

21st Oaks Scholarship event goes virtual

Samantha Boring
Updated: March 18, 2021 01:32 PM
Created: March 18, 2021 07:49 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - Thursday night is the 21st Oaks Scholarship event, normally held in person, the RCTC Foundation is holding it through Zoom for the first time. 
 
ABC 6 News is a proud sponsor of this event. 

Oaks stands for overcoming adversity and keeping strong, these scholarships are to recognize students who have overcome hardships to reach personal and academic success. 

These stories can include overcoming poverty, sexual abuse, health challenges, and so much more. 

These scholarships recognize the hard work it has taken for these students to overcome those hardships and continue their education at RCTC. 

This year, the scholarship ceremony had to be changed due to COVID, but organizers are still excited to put on the event in a new way. 

"It's free to actually attend virtually so hopefully we can cast a larger net and grab a bigger audience and increase the awareness and exposure," said Chair of the RCTC Oaks Scholarship Committee, Brian Muellner. He added, "It is a really big deal for these students to share their stories, they are very personal.
 
The RCTC Foundation had to limit the amount scholarships this year due to COVID as well. 

Thursday night, four recipients will share their achievements. 

"When you hear these students talk about the emotional resilience that they've had the kind of growth and learning they've been through, it is something that we all need this year, this year we all need to hear that idea that we can learn and grow from the hardships that we're facing," said RCTC Advancement Coordinator, Kristin Mannix. 
 
The Oaks scholarship event, formerly known as Beat the Odds, has provided more than 166 scholarships over the past 21 years totaling $275 thousand. 
 
One of the students that will be awarded this year is Byran Chase. 

"I was sexually abused when I was a child from the ages from roughly 11 to 15," said Chase. 
 
He went through the unthinkable, years of abuse from a family friend and never told anyone. 

"I was massively depressed, I dropped out of high school twice, which is not an achievement anyone should brag about," said Chase. 
 
All of that changed a few years ago when he told a friend, Erin McIntosh who also nominated him for this scholarship. 

After Chase worked with detectives on his case and eventually was able to get his abuser convicted, his life started to get better. 

Recently he was chosen for a 2021 Oaks Scholarship. 

"When I was accepted for the scholarship and rewarded I was just astounded it was incredible," said Chase. 
 
He went through the process of being interviewed, so he could tell his story to people he doesn't even know. 

"Telling them my story, and it was difficult because you know I broke down and was crying during it and I realized so were they," said Chase. 
 
Chase said this scholarship means he can move forward. 

"I can focus on my education and moving forward with my life without having all that extra burden on it, which is freeing and phenomenal in so many ways," said Chase. 
 
As well as continue to heal from the trauma with the support of the people around him. 

"Every time I talk about it it gets a little bit easier and every time I'm able to help someone else tell their story it gets a little bit easier," said Chase. 
 
For the future, Chase hopes to finish his Associate degree and move on to getting a Bachelor's degree to help and advocate for LGBTQ students through Government or non-profits. 

You can watch his entire story as well as the other three stories Thursday night here


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