Call her Dr. Peterson: Red Wing graduate hopes to become an oncologist
Editor's note: This story is part of a series highlighting outstanding graduating seniors. Find more profiles here.
When most students are about to graduate high school, they aren't sure what they want to do for the rest of their life.
Not Rachel Peterson. Her mind was made up four years ago, when her mother was going through cancer treatments.
Peterson, a senior at Red Wing High School, will graduate on June 1 and move on to college in Decatur, Ga., at Agnes Scott College in the fall.
Peterson decided to go to college there when she toured the campus, enjoying the school's "homey" atmosphere.
Peterson will study pre-med for her bachelor's degree, but will then be required to go through medical school and residency before becoming an oncologist.
An oncologist is a medical doctor who treats and provides medical care for people diagnosed with cancer.
Peterson's mother was diagnosed with stage four breast and ovarian cancer, only given six months left to live. Although Peterson's mother died from her cancer two years ago, she defied the odds given to her and survived for four years.
Watching her oncologist work was eye-opening to Peterson, who saw a chance to help people.
"It really just helped me come to the conclusion that I wanted to affect someone's life in the way that I gave them time," Peterson said. "To be able to finish out what they needed to. And to give to them time with their family and friends."
Currently, Peterson is a certified nurses assistant at the St. Crispin Living Community in Red Wing and loves her role.
"I'm able to help people right away... I'm able to make them feel comfortable and get them through something that's a rough period of time for a lot of people," Peterson said.
Aside from her budding medical career, Peterson was a County State Ambassador in 4-H, showing a goat and a black angus calf this year.
Peterson has grown up on his father's family farm in Welch, with here two-half brothers and her twin brother.
Peterson was often seen in the pool, being involved with the swim club from fifth to 10th grade and acting as a captain on the swim team. After seeing her friend get into swimming, Peterson thought, why not me?
"Swimming was a good way to get me out there and meet people, while also being able to exercise and have fun," Peterson said.
She competed in the 100-meter backstroke, 50-meter freestyle, 200-meter medley relay, and 400-meter freestyle relay during her career.
The Red Wing class of 2018 will graduate at 7 p.m. Friday, June 1, at the high school.
Peterson said if she could go back in time and give her freshman self a piece of advice, it would be "Don't be afraid to try new things."
"Just go out there, you don't have to be good at it, you don't have to be number one, you just have to have fun," Peterson said.