Mother inspired by son’s memory earns Board of Governor’s Award

When Dorothy Peters decided to finish her masters at Trinity Western University, in memory of her son, Matthew, she had no idea it would lead to a prestigious, full tuition and accommodation scholarship from Oxford University to pursue a graduate degree in Jewish studies. Last week, Dorothy was presented the prominent Board of Governor’s Award at TWU’s graduation ceremony, an honor given to the school’s top Master’s graduate.

Three years ago, a car accident claimed the life of Abbotsford Senior’s Matthew Peters, along with the lives of two of his friends. Instead of growing bitter and immobile by the tragedy, this grieving mother decided to engage her mind in something productive. Motivated by the idea of finishing at the same time her son would have graduated high school, Dorothy Peters headed to TWU to undertake an M.A. in Biblical Studies. She completed her defense thesis May 16, 2002—seven days before Matthew would have turned 18.

“Matthew was a decathlete. He used to tell us that the 2008 Olympics were his Olympics. My husband and I would have loved to see him compete there,” says Dorothy.
“From when I was young, studying at Oxford seemed like an impossible dream, one that I would never have had the courage to pursue,” she added. “Oxford is to me just as the Olympics were to Matthew. When he died, I decided to honour his life by trying to follow my dream. Somehow, I think Matthew is cheering me on just as he dad and I would have cheered him on.”

“I’ve only ever had one student finish their masters more quickly,” recalls Martin Abegg, Director of Biblical Studies and Dorothy’s professor, “But she was determined to get it done so she could graduate when Matt would have. This very negative situation has actually been turned into a very beautiful thing.”

Dorothy, who is currently living at Yarnton Manor, home of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, obviously did not cut any corners to finish faster. As a straight A student and valedictorian, she earned the Board of Governor’s Award for MA students. Dr. Abegg notes, however, that Dorothy’s most significant quality is not her brilliance, nor her self-motivation, but her care for others.

“She’s more than just bright,” recalls Abegg, “She has that special quality—I think of it as a community builder. She’s not an ivory tower person in the least; she has just the opposite effect. She gathers people around her in a real positive way.”

Though she is greatly missed at Trinity, staff and students alike are proud of her accomplishments and excited for her future. With her kids out on their own, a husband who can work abroad, and a prestigious Masters in Hebrew and Jewish Studies as well as in Biblical Studies, the world is Dorothy’s oyster.

“I told her that if she were here, I would hire her to teach, as have other of our students between their masters,” says Abegg. “If she had her PhD, then she could teach virtually any program. But being a women and as talented as she is, with the lack of women in Biblical Studies still these days, she would be in high demand.”

Dorothy’s future plans are open, just as she is. “This year at Oxford is such a gift,” says Dorothy. “Perhaps, I will continue with a doctorate, perhaps not. I would love to teach and write. Some of my best experiences were as a school teacher, teaching elementary and high school students Bible. Perhaps I will go back to that.”

Whatever Dorothy decides to do, it is certain her story of hope and persistence will follow her, inspiring other to strive for their dream, rather than be defeated by their circumstances.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,000 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 35 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership

Last Updated: 2007-09-26