Whether Benzing dorm is free of waves or full of them, Pam Petrie stands out as a hero among all the dorm’s ups and downs.
Petrie has been working at Hillsdale College for 12 years, including seven years on the night shift, custodial work at Olds and Koon, and now a second year at the Benzing dorm.
“I have 52 girls,” said Petrie. “I have two of my own and 50 from all over the United States. And I love every single one of them.”
Whether it be the professors, custodians, security, or maintenance, many faculty members at Hillsdale form meaningful relationships with students. Petrie, however, exhibits an honorable example of the joy and pride the faculty consistently provides across campus, according to Benzing residents.
Petrie’s devotion to the girls reveals itself through her simple mission of making sure every girl feels like they belong and have a home at Hillsdale.
“Wherever I am, I try to make the kids feel as at home as they possibly can,” Petrie said. “I don’t want them to ever feel homesick, or that somebody doesn’t care, because somebody does care. It’s a new beginning for them, and I just want them to know that even though they’re not close to home, home is still here.”
Not only does Petrie care for the girls of Benzing practically through her maintenance work, she also said that she offers up her prayers and work daily for the girls.
“I pray really hard for them,” said Petrie. “I pray before Thanksgiving because I know it’s exam time. And I pray in the fall when they first come back, and I especially pray for all the freshmen because it’s their first year away from mom and dad and everything is going to be different.”
Jolene Estruth, junior and current head Resident Assistant at Benzing, attests to Petrie’s love and sympathy toward the girls.
“She was talking to me in my doorway one day and saw a girl walk past that she didn’t know,” Estruth said. “She ran down the hall to go ask her what her name was and see how she was doing. She just loves building relationships with all the girls.”
Estruth said that her actions reveal the love and joy she bears for the women she serves.
“She just does all these little things to love us. It’s been so beautiful to be able to be on the inside of that and connect to her and see her heart for the girls,” Estruth said.
Petrie also played a key role in the recent Benzing floods. She had decided to make a quick stop at Benzing to check on her girls before beginning work at the Sage Fine Arts buildingthat morning when she realized the dorm was flooding.
“She ran downstairs into the water banging on doors to get people out because she was worried about an electrical current,” Estruth said.
Petrie helped salvage the girls’ belongings and comforted the girls during all the chaos.
“I think it speaks to her character that she could do the bare minimum with her job but she loves the girls so much that she takes a step above,” said sophomore Essie Molloy. “She doesn’t just take care of the kids, but really calls us her girls.”
Petrie’s definitely deserves the honor but never would have expected it or asked for it, Estruth said.
“There’s just so much anger out there in the world,” Petrie said. “Just that little bit of happiness that you can show to someone could change their whole day.”