Parents celebrate in front of a bright, colorful background of shaped balloons

Fostering the Good Scholarship: Tori Petersen

Written by Emily Marsh

Over the past year, forty-five alumni have contributed a total of $33,141 to a scholarship enabling former foster youth to receive a liberal arts education at Hillsdale College—all thanks to the Enduring Legacy Campaign and the dedication of former foster youth and Hillsdale graduate, Tori Petersen, ’18.

“At a place like Hillsdale, young people can discover their purpose in a safe place surrounded by people who will support and uplift them,” said Petersen, an advocate for foster youth and speaker dedicated to sharing the gospel. “Hillsdale College is a place of healing for vulnerable youth.”

Tori has utilized her website and blog to get out the message about the Fostering the Good Scholarship, which she created shortly after graduating from the College. On her blog she tells the story of how, as graduation approached, she remembered the scholarship that had brought her to Hillsdale: “I wanted every vulnerable youth and every former foster youth to have an opportunity at Hillsdale, so I promised myself I’d start a scholarship…someday.” 

With the help of the Institutional Advancement Department, Petersen was able to start the scholarship almost immediately, and neither the Covid-19 pandemic nor present race tensions slowed support for the scholarship from the Hillsdale College community. 

When the world felt like it was exploding this past year as the media was conflating recent events, it felt like for the first time since I have been in the Hillsdale College community, the community was divided,” Petersen said. “But so many people donated to the scholarship regardless of their beliefs about current events.” 

Tori believes that Hillsdale College is an especially transformative place for foster youth. “In foster care, youth, especially teenagers, can be very isolated because of the rules of foster care. This makes it very difficult for young people to discover their passions and purposes,” she said. “But at a place like Hillsdale, young people can discover their purpose in a safe place surrounded by people who will support and uplift them. Hillsdale College is a place of healing for vulnerable youth.” 

Tori is quick to share stories about her time as a Hillsdale student, drawing especially from professors who became role models and guides to her. In many of her blog posts, Tori discusses how Hillsdale acted as her “village” to help raise and guide her. 

Truly, the village was just a bunch of people showing up in the name of Jesus and reflecting him in big and small ways,” she said. “It inspired me because I wanted to reflect Him, because God is the way, the truth, and the life.” 

Part of how she is now reflecting that love is through her work building this scholarship, which will pave the way for other faster youths to receive the love and support she experienced at Hillsdale College. 

Read more from November’s newsletter:

Double Bondsmen: Chasing Dreams and Finding Reality

Ransom Dunn Scholarship Recipient: Kate Swope

Emily Marsh, ’23, studies Economics and Mathematics. She is a self-diagnosed coffee addict and she loves the water, meeting new people, and writing (on the good days). Her favorite part of being on campus is people watching when she’s supposed to be doing homework.

Published in October 2020