It takes time to recognize and appreciate the impact some people have on our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes it is not until after they are gone that you can more clearly see the part they played in it. Dr. Miller was like that for me. He was one of my first professors at Goshen College and I would continue as his student in three more courses in my pursuit of a nursing degree.
To his students, Dr. Miller was an academically tough professor with an intense passion for education. He was known for giving detailed lectures and for long multiple choice tests, yet he had a positive energy which fed our own passion as students, no matter how early in the morning the lecture or how long the afternoon lab. It was easy to roll our eyes at the comic strips and jokes which rolled through the PowerPoints before and during class, but I always found myself smiling at the cheesy punch lines. Weaving silly humor into our understanding of serious biological processes may have been a questionable move, but it made me rethink why we learned what we did in Anatomy & Physiology and Human Pathophysiology. He taught us what we needed to be educated nurses, but also how to see the beauty in life’s complexity.
For nursing students, Dr. Miller was our liaison to the hard sciences. He was the fascinating, challenging and vital window into the science that drives the medical world. It is a challenge to integrate the micro workings of cells, organs and body systems into our desire to care for the whole person as well as the body, but Dr. Miller’s passion for these processes and how they directly affect us as humans and unique individuals has made me understand far more about my future career as a nurse and how I understand myself than I ever thought a couple of bio classes could.
Dr. Miller openly discussed his back surgeries and the resulting physical struggles, thus illustrating how empowering it is to conceptually understand what is happening with our own bodies. Dr. Miller also provided information to students about sports injuries and the inflammatory process or common diseases like the swine flu. I’ve found my desire for understanding my own health fueled by his relentless search for information and how to apply it to the pertinent questions and experiences of the now. It’s these sorts of things that have begun to solidify as I near the end of my Goshen career. The lessons learned which apply outside of the classroom are the parts of myself that have developed and grown because of my relationship with Dr. Miller; these are what I and many others will remember him for. I will never forget the dedication Dr. Miller had for his students and relationships. I’d like to thank him for all he has done for me and the Goshen College community.
Indigo is a senior nursing major.