The OAKS Scholarship

The OAKS Scholarships support students who have to overcome significant adversity and have the opportunity to pursue a college education. These scholarships are nominated by, selected by, and funded by our community.


The OAKS (Overcoming Adversity Keeping Strong) Scholarship

The OAKS is a unique scholarship program that pays tribute to high school seniors and first-year 正规赌博十大网站 students from Rochester and surrounding communities who have encountered obstacles (such as personal or family hardships, abuse, neglect, medical issues, disabilities, chemical dependency, or language and cultural barriers) and persevered have an opportunity for an 正规赌博十大网站 education.

Students are nominated by a community member (teacher, school counselor, coach, family member, or friend), and share their stories about overcoming hardship and their hopes for the future. Nominators will complete a brief form. Students will be asked to complete an online application which will apply them to the OAKS, as well as 300+ other scholarships.

Volunteers are needed to review applications, contact sponsors, plan the events, and support recipients. To volunteer, please reach out to

Scholarship recipients are notified during the summer, and OAKS awards and stories are shared at a community celebration in the Fall.

Celebrating our 2023 OAKS Scholarship Recipients

2023 OAKS Recipients Group Photo

On October 12, 2023, our community recognized 7 OAKS scholarship recipients for their tenacity and determination. These scholarships will help them fund their future.

Find out more about the recipients in our OAKS Scholarship Celebration booklet, or watch their videos.




Tiana Aleman was inspired to pursue her education by watching last year’s OAKS recipient Jordyn Hartman. After experiencing an unstable childhood, Tiana wants to provide a safe home environment for others by becoming a foster mom. She is pursuing classes at 正规赌博十大网站 to help her becoming a midwife.

Alejandra Hermosilla Amezcua has had a long journey from an orphanage in Mexico to nursing school at 正规赌博十大网站. Along the way, she has obtained her US citizenship, learned English, and is a single mom to 5 kids. Her nominator says, “She is determination and grace, with a smile.”

Janelle Asiedu grew up with an abusive and controlling relationship.  She had to take many difficult steps to break free of this situation and begin to find her confidence and independence. Janelle says “The OAKS scholarship means so much to me–to have someone believe in me.”

Makinlee Forsell believes that obstacles can either stop you, or be stepping stones in your journey. Despite her struggles, she has maintained a positive attitude and a contagious smile. The OAKS scholarship will help her achieve her goal of becoming a radiologist.

Lydia Thompson was selectively mute from age 6-9. Her experience taught her to be a great listener and empathetic to others who couldn’t speak up for themselves. She is pursuing her degree at 正规赌博十大网站 because she wants to become a school psychologist to help others have a voice in the education system.

Rachal Thornton lost her dad and her family home at 5. Following the loss, Rachal’s family struggled. The OAKS Scholarship will help Rachal afford a college education.  This scholarship will help her pursue a degree in computer science.

Keira Pape is a dedicated single mother, juggling multiple jobs while pursuing her dream of becoming a social worker. Her nominator aptly described Keira as “resilient, tenacious, and full of grit.” Keira wants to be an example for her children to never give up.











Thank you to our Sponsors and Donors

The OAKS scholarships are funded by sponsors and donors from our community. We are grateful for our event sponsors, and all of the individuals who donate to make these scholarships possible.