Kelly Miller (2nd Quarter, 2009)

2nd Quarter, 2009
Liberal Arts Scholarship
Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller is a full time high school English teacher who is currently attending Prescott College with a concentration in Adventure Education. Her passion is educating students in the outdoors.

A Portion of Kelly’s Winning Essay:

Education is the keystone of my life. We begin cognitive thinking at birth and continue until death, some of us. Others merely pass through life, day to day without considering one single aspect of their circumstances. I have chosen a path of liberal arts education because, not only do I further my education everyday; but I pass on my wisdom to my students. I intend to continue my formal education so that I may shape and continue to shape my community by various means.

Through out my years of education I have found that I require a unique structure of education. I struggled during my high school years. I did not see college in my future; however, my parents felt differently. They helped me fill out the myriad forms that accompanied higher education. I was accepted to a local college, and was utterly miserable my freshmen year. I dropped out and had no intention of going back. It was not the classes. I enjoyed the classes. It was my surroundings. I needed a change.

I spent a semester in the work force. I was greatly unhappy at this time as well; everyone around me knew that I needed a change. It was at this time that I made a decision to change my life. I applied to Fort Lewis College, two thousand miles from home. After being accepted-one of the happiest days of my life-my parents bought me a one-way ticket to Durango, Colorado.

Fort Lewis College of Liberal Arts was an enormous change from my previous school. I connected with my fellow students and my professors. Because of financial reasons I had to, again, drop of school; but this time nothing would keep me from going back. After bouncing around from house to house and job to job I realized I was returning to that place that I had run so far from. Then an acquaintance told me about Southwest Youth Corps (SYC).

Southwest Youth Corps was truly why I came to Colorado. I entered as a Corps member, and six months later, I left as a Crew Leader. Working with Corps members finally made me realize that I was not alone. I found that many young adults are confused by all the options that lie ahead of them. My goal was to help them sort through their opportunities, give them skills, and choose the best path. I found my own path in patiently helping young people. With the AmeriCorps scholarship I earned while working with SYC, I managed to erase all my student debt and return to Fort Lewis College as a Secondary Education major with a clean slate.

Two years later, I graduated with honors. What I found through my ten year toil was that I am a committed person. I must be constantly moving forward in my education, but it must be on my terms. I need to be concurrently educating others.
Presently I am in my fourth year of teaching high school English. I enjoy my job because I get to both educate and encourage high school students every day. Every day I get a chance to help prevent students from falling into the listless doldrums I survived. What is lacking is the experiential aspect of education. Of course, they can experience success on many levels in the classroom; but I feel that they need more success, more community, and more fresh air.

This past summer I completed a two week outdoor education class with adults from all walks of life. Before I entered the program, I decided I needed to go to graduate school; and I knew that a MA. Ed., was not in my future. During the program I recalled the independent Adventure Education program offered at Prescott College. I began researching what Prescott College has to offer. More and more I kept going back to the Social Ecology/Community Development program. I feel that with my background in Secondary Education and outdoor leadership, I can develop a community of young leaders.

Currently I work part-time in the teen library at the Pine River Public Library, am a member of the Farms to Schools committee, and am the sponsor for High School Leadership La Plata. I feel that if I am both a model of leadership at school and in my community, young people will follow. I am at the point in my life where I need the skills to capture young people’s interest and develop their interest into commitment. That is where Prescott College intervenes.

Prescott College offers a student driven education that accents my former education. I am acutely interested in the areas: ecological and social activism, social theory, community development, food systems and agricultural policy, ecological alternatives in education, and environmental issues and politics. With a formal liberal arts education concentrating on these areas I will be able to start a non-profit teen community center that focuses on local and global issues through experiential education. I would first like to train my students to act locally; and then eventually volunteer around the country, even the world, to make a change. Students that leave my program will possess experience and skills that will prepare them for higher education, while instilling a desire to help others. From this I hope to gain a sense of accomplishment, similar to what I felt when I left SYC, only on a greater level.

I am only thirty one, but already I feel that I know myself well. I require a liberal arts education to make a change in my community and in the global community. With my previous experience in Southwest Youth Corps and Fort Lewis College; my present career in Secondary Education; and the leadership and environmental organizations that I sponsor, I feel that Prescott College’ liberal arts curriculum is a perfect fit for me.

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