2019 Tillman Scholar

Christopher Petersen

Air Force
Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

“I plan to serve patients by improving the one thing that means everything: their health.”

Growing up, Christopher’s parents modeled lives of service for him – and the lesson stuck. After graduating from Notre Dame, he was working as a financial analyst in Manhattan, and during his daily commute, he read about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Feeling simultaneously unfulfilled and the call to serve, Christopher left his job and enlisted in the Air Force to become a Pararescueman.

During his time in service, Christopher volunteered to deploy several times to Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, performing combat rescue missions. Witnessing the most extreme trauma the human body can endure, he painfully learned that sometimes, regardless of preparation or performance, missions had mixed outcomes, and not everyone survived. Standing in a trauma bay in Afghanistan, he watched physicians and surgeons accomplish what he could not, truly save lives, and was motivated to do more by serving as a doctor.

Christopher left active duty to pursue a medical degree at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell while remaining in the National Guard. As a student, he delved into medicine outside of the trauma bay, and developed a passion for optimizing health. By breaking down barriers to medical care and destigmatizing mental health care, he hopes to help all patients achieve their highest level of wellness. Christopher plans to serve as an Air National Guard flight surgeon and is excited about the opportunity to provide holistic healthcare, including health advocacy, to support servicemembers and their families, enabling them to enjoy the best quality of life.