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Hard work, dedication and persistence - Indira Miller balances academics and community service

Hard work, dedication and persistence - Indira Miller balances academics and community service

Indira Miller's interest in a nursing career dates back to when she broke her left fibula in two different places playing soccer at the age of five, while living on the island of Okinawa, Japan. Doctors told her she needed surgery and might not ever play soccer or any other sport again due to the severity of her injury.  But a nurse made a suggestion that changed her outlook.

"The nurse taking care of me heard of a new type of cast treatment plan in Hawaii that was a good alternative to surgery," she says.  "She first opened my eyes to a future in nursing."

Miller and her family traveled to Hawaii for the cast fitting and returned back to Okinawa, Japan.  After her father finished his tour of duty on Okinawa, the family returned to Jacksonville, N.C. in May 2003. There she was able to start physical therapy and continue when the family moved again to Virginia Beach, where they now call home.

"The cast treatment worked well and I was able to play sports again with a brace within a year," she says, noting that eventually she was able to play without a brace. 

After graduating from Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, Miller decided to pursue her interest in nursing. She applied to VCU with the goal of enrolling in the nursing program.

"It is the best nursing school in Virginia," says Miller. "The school has a long history of developing great well rounded nurses and successful NCLEX passing rates. "

Now in her second semester as a traditional B.S. student, Miller is already showing promise as a well-rounded future nurse. She carries a 3.9 G.P.A. and was recently selected to receive the VCU Board of Visitors Scholarship in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements and service to the University and the community. The one-year award is equal to in-state tuition and fees.

"This is a big weight lifted off my shoulders," Miller says.

Her university service includes being active in the Student Government Association on the Monroe Park Campus and serving as a secretary for Nursing Students Without Borders, where she also helps pre-nursing students with the application process and mentoring.  In addition, Miller volunteers at the VCU Medical Center's NICU, teaching parents and guests proper hand hygiene and entertaining siblings.

The nursing sophomore has also made a memorable impact in class, says Susan Lindner, M.S.N., RNC-OB, clinical assistant professor, who taught Miller in the Health Assessment course last fall.

"On the first day of class, she stayed after class and waited to introduce herself to me and her dreams of becoming a nurse," Lindner says. "After that she always arrived for class prepared, asked very thoughtful questions and collaborated with her peers." 

 "I could see that she has the potential to not only be an excellent nurse, but also advance the science of nursing and impact patient lives," Lindner added.

Outside of her classes and involvement in student organizations, Miller has been involved in community outreach activities that include feeding the homeless, packaging food, helping to administer health screenings (blood pressure, blood glucose testing, A1C, health education) and much more. She says she learned of these various outreach activities through being a member of Emerging Healthcare Leaders, Health Occupation Students of America and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

"The warm feeling I get inside from helping someone in addition to happy smiles and faces is what motivates me to be so involved in student activities and volunteer in many community service events," Miller says.


Miller is also a student ambassador for the School of Nursing, where she gives school tours and assists with activities in the Clinical Learning Center. After graduation, she hopes to work in a neonatal intensive care unit and return to school to become a nurse practitioner.

Until then, she follows advice that she offers to prospective nursing students --  "anything you put your mind to can be achieved, especially through hard work, dedication and persistence."

"Keep your head held high and engines running -- there is light at the end of the tunnel," she says. "The reward of being a nurse and helping others is worth the hard work."

Creating collaboration. Advancing science. Impacting lives.