Freeman High School senior Tori Burton is described by the school’s counselor, Laura Hamm, as someone who would “bloom where she’s planted.”
Serving this year as student body vice president and National Honor Society president, Burton knows that she is on her own journey.
“There is a verse in the Bible that I have taped up to my mirror that I see when I’m getting ready in the mornings that I think is very comforting. It says, ‘Keep on doing what is right, and trust your life to the God who created you, for he will never fail you,” she said. “I think it’s important for young women, especially in high school, to set their standards high because they deserve it.”
She added, “I want to change the way men treat women but I think it starts first with the way women treat themselves.”
At 18, Burton is wise beyond her years and has already experienced some hard life lessons. Not knowing who her father is, Burton said when she was younger she “struggled a lot in wondering why I was ‘mocha’ and looked so different than my family.”
“Supposedly having all of my father’s features (Native American and Hispanic) yet not having a photo to see this guy really tugged at me,” she said.
Through the love and support of her extended family, she has come to understand the idea of beauty within. “My grandparents would tell me how beautiful I was on the outside but would stress the importance of my beauty on the inside,” she said.
Burton lives with her grandparents, a choice she made as her mother was figuring out her own life. Not taking her parents’ choices personally, Burton has since studied hard and focused on her future. Her goal is to be a faith-based counselor. “I want to be a teacher,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean I have to be a school teacher. No one goes through life without being a teacher of some kind. We all teach by example.”
With the help of scholarships, she hopes to attend either Whitworth University or Washington State University to study psychology and theology.
Her own choices include involvement in choir and drama, teaching summer school to middle school students in Jonestown, Miss., refraining from drugs and drinking, abstinence, and writing songs. Without hesitation or even musical accompaniment, she will belt out heartrending songs about her love for her troubled brother or her understanding of young love.
“Is this love, or am I just young?” she sings. Two years ago, Burton had a cancer scare that turned out to be a benign tumor on her thyroid, which was partially removed. She understands fear and uncertainty, and she is ready to bloom. “I hope that I can use my experiences and standards to have a positive influence on young women.”