Rachel Joy Scott was born in Denver, Colorado in August 1982. She was the middle of five children; she had two older sisters: Bethanee and Dana; and two younger brothers: Craig and Mike.
Her middle name described her; she was a joy! Rachel was energized by people. This love expressed itself in an outgoing personality and a heartfelt compassion for people in need. Rachel learned the power of simple compliments and acts of kindness at an early age. In high school, she deliberately reached out to three groups of people and wrote about it in her diary. She wrote, “I want to reach out to those with special needs because they are often overlooked. I want to reach out to those who are new in school because they don’t have any friends yet. And I want to reach out to those who are picked on or put down by others.”
Rachel didn’t just write about it, she lived it.
She had no idea that her simple words and acts of kindness would one day help prevent bullying, save teens from self-harm and suicide, and even deter gun violence in schools.
Dana shares thoughts about her sister in this video.
Be True to You
Rachel was a normal teenager who experienced the same struggles we all face. She would be the first to tell you she wasn’t perfect. She made mistakes, like everyone else. Most of the time she found a way to see through her pain and frustration and connect to a bigger purpose. In one of the six diaries she left her family, she wrote:
Rachel also understood the power of peer pressure, and how important it is to know, love and be true to yourself. This understanding helped her to respect and appreciate the people around her – especially those who were hurting or different from her. By looking deeper than just what was on the surface, she saw the relatedness we all share. Rachel wrote, “Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help that light grow.”
Rachel understood that we are all uniquely important, and that we can draw strength from being comfortable with ourselves. It’s all about self-respect: when we respect ourselves, it’s easier to respect others. It’s the basis for the kind of positive mental health that could prevent another mass shooting like the one at Columbine High School. In an undated letter to her cousin she wrote:
The hands of time
Rachel seemed to not only know that her life would be short, but that it would be meaningful, and she was at peace with this. When she was 13 years old, she traced the outline of her hands on the back of her dresser and wrote: “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.” She knew her life mattered. Her message to you would be that, no matter your history or circumstance, your life matters too. She’d ask you to have the courage to do what is right, even if it isn’t easy or popular. She’d encourage you to intentionally reach out to those in need, and she would remind you, as she wrote in her final essay:
“Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer. I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
Rachel’s favorite things
What’s your favorite song?
Rachel loved her theater classes and had a lead role in the spring play. Her favorite actors were Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Jodie Foster and Julia Roberts. She loved butterflies and her favorite colors were yellow and lavender. Rachel also had a sweet tooth, and liked cheese pizza, hot wings, cereal and burgers. Rachel also loved to sing, but really couldn’t carry a tune. Her favorite song was ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ by the Verve. You can listen to it here.
What’s your favorite song? We’d love to know.