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From the Desk of

by Troy Miller

Troy Miller | Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management

As the child of a mother who was but a child herself, having given birth at age 15, my maternal grandparents contributed significantly to who I am today. James and Sallie were vital caregivers and role models as mom was playing catch up in night school to graduate from high school on time with her class. Each inspired and taught me in very different ways and were an invaluable aspect of family dynamics that transmitted essential life lessons and family history through storytelling and recounting personal experiences.

My grandfather was always well-groomed and sharply dressed. I watched him interact with people from all walks of life, gaining their friendship and respect. I also thought he was rich, as he always had a wad of dollar bills the size of a baseball in his pocket. Whether paying vendors for services or products related to his two businesses or giving money to us grandkids, each time he pulled it out, I could not help but stare. Seeing all that he accomplished, I was impressed. Knowing later in life that he did it with a third-grade education, I was astonished. Never have I known or witnessed a man do so much with so little. There are two phrases I often heard him say: “You don’t have to have all the things to do everything, and you can do something with nothing,” and “Always do right by people because you don’t always know which people
are right.”

My grandmother was wheelchair-bound later in life due to her battle with multiple sclerosis. She was far more intentional in her approach and a staunch advocate for education. She often said, “Baby, this wheelchair got me, but it doesn’t own me." Her care, concern, vigilance and determination for me to succeed academically seemed to be her life’s work. My school day did not end once school was out for the day. Each afternoon, sitting at the kitchen table under the watchful eye of my grandmother, I completed homework assignments as quickly as I could with the goal of being able to go outside and play with my friends. However, the jubilation of completing all the homework assigned by my teachers and the anticipation of going outside was short-lived. My grandmother would then pull out her own lessons for the day, and I would have to spend another hour or two doing reading comprehension, multiplication and long division. I held her in great reverence and admired her dearly, and thought these lessons were normal for a second grader.

Although no longer with me, my grandparents continue to serve as my moral compass, having shared their wisdom and instilled values and ethics that shaped my character. They were repositories of knowledge, both formal and informal. Their guidance helped develop my sense of right and wrong, and taught me about respect, hard work and determination; things that I still seek today to provide and share with my four daughters.

The importance of role models like my grandparents cannot be overstated. Acknowledging and appreciating this profound impact strengthens our emotional well-being and moral development. All of these are critical to fostering intergenerational bonds that are imperative to the holistic development of future generations. I only hope my grandchildren feel I have impacted their lives half as much as I know James and Sallie impacted mine. I am thankful and grateful for having them as part of my village. 

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