Hannah Miller, a second-year Grace College student from Middlebury, Ind., was recently recognized as a “Realizing the Dream” award recipient in Indianapolis. Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) celebrates outstanding academic achievement in first-generation college students like Miller through this annual recognition.
Miller is one of 30 winners from Indiana’s private, non-profit colleges and universities. Now sophomores, the winners are the first in their families to go to college. Each was selected by their college for outstanding achievement during freshman year and successfully advancing towards completion of their bachelor’s degree. Honored students receive a $2,500 check to help with college costs, and each student’s selected “most influential” teacher/mentor receives a $1,000 professional development grant.
Miller was overjoyed with news of her award. “The award will help me financially next semester, which in turn helps me earn my degree,” said Miller. “I will not have to take out an extra loan to cover the cost. That’s a huge blessing!”
Miller attended the honorary banquet on Saturday, Nov. 4, in Indianapolis with her father and stepmother; Randy Polston, director of applied learning at Grace College; and her “most influential” teacher, Meghan Miller, a fourth-grade teacher at Heritage Intermediate School in Middlebury, Ind.
“I asked Meghan to accompany me to the banquet because she has made a major impact on me and my education decisions. Seeing the way she taught me and other students inspired me to become a teacher someday,” Miller explained. “Randy Polston impacted my life both this year and last. I was his applied learning assistant in the Center for Career Connections office last semester, and he always went above and beyond to support and encourage me.”
“Hannah has always been a hard worker, deep thinker, and high performer,” said Meghan Miller. “I may have shed a tear when I found out Hannah was receiving this award. As a teacher, the ultimate goal for me is to impact the students I teach. To hear she chose me to attend this banquet is an honor and a memory I will not forget.”
Polston was also glad to accompany Miller to the banquet. “I was impressed with Hannah right from the start; she caught on so quickly. Every day that she arrived to work, her positive work ethic was present. Hannah quickly established herself in our office as someone we could count on.”
Miller has both realized her dreams and is working hard to accomplish her goals. “She is taking advantage of this and is making sure every day at Grace College is a day she has committed to do her very best,” Polston said. This fall, Miller accepted an important leadership role on campus. She is the resident assistant (RA) in one of Grace College’s dorms.
Looking forward, Miller plans to use her degree in elementary education to teach special education or upper elementary school. “God has given me a heart for teaching, and I’m very excited to use those gifts to benefit others,” Miller explained. “I’m not sure where exactly God is calling me to go, but I know that wherever it may be, Grace College is preparing me well for it. And I have many supporters to help me along the way.”