Nina Miller


Nina Miller

Nina Miller always did exceptionally well in school. Tests were easy, she didn’t have to study, and her hyperactive lifestyle was perfect for living life on a farm. Nina even said that she never cracked a textbook in high school. But then, she got to Virginia Tech.

She made an effort—she started studying and took notes—but her grades were plummeting. Her GPA started inching dangerously close to academic probation status, so, after some consultation with Cook Counseling Center, Nina was tested and diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability.

Right before the beginning of her sophomore year, Nina received accommodations from Services for Students with Disabilities. She began to meet with Michael Brown for academic coaching, but she was skeptical. Nina attended the coaching sessions, but, in the back of her mind, she was preparing for one more semester at Virginia Tech before being kicked out because of her grades.

In the first semester she participated in academic coaching, Nina went from almost failing out of college to having her name on the Dean’s List. Most students would be overjoyed, but Nina stayed unconvinced.

She said, “I thought that maybe these accommodations were making college too easy for me.”

Then, Michael spoke up. He told Nina, “It’s not that we’re making it easier. We’re leveling the playing field.”

Ever since, Nina’s time at Virginia Tech has been marked by success and influence. She will graduate this spring with a degree in agribusiness management and minors in leadership and religion. Nina serves on panels and as a facilitator of discussions for SSD, and she is proud of the fact that she can be a mentor to younger students.

Nina says that she always wants to try something new, and she attributes this “favorite trait” to her ADHD. She said that, after she got over the shock of this diagnosis so late in her education, she decided, “Okay. I have this. Now what can I do with it?”

Last spring, Nina travelled to Ghana to study abroad. Other than getting lost in Istanbul on her way to Africa, Nina said that her time there was life changing and life-giving. She said, “I hate school, but I love learning. I love the classes that I can do. Being in Ghana, I loved learning about the culture by experiencing it.”

Nina said, “So many times, we let the little stuff of who we are get in the way of getting to know other people. For the first year after my diagnosis, I was really shy and ashamed of my disability. I thought people would look at me and think, ‘She’s not smart. She can’t handle this.’ But I’ve learned to be okay with who I am. It allows the space for me to get to know people at a deeper level. It gives people the chance to say, ‘Yeah, me too. I struggle too.’”

Nina often tells people, “I have ‘dis’-ability, ‘dis’-ability, and ‘dat’-ability.” She has no problem claiming her diagnoses because she thinks of them as abilities instead of disabilities, and she recognizes that they don’t hold her back.

Hailing from a small town in rural Virginia, Nina calls Blacksburg a “big city.” She said she was confused when everyone was awake after 9:30 p.m. and no one was up at 5 a.m.

After getting past the late nights and late mornings, Nina became incredibly involved at Virginia Tech. She is an intramural sport official and supervisor with Recreational Sports and has been named official of the week and alternate of the week multiple times. In November 2014, Nina was named employee of the month. She also officiates middle school and junior varsity football and middle school and varsity volleyball for local organizations and schools.

She’s a member of the Wesley Foundation, where she previously served as Worship Minister. She volunteered with a tutoring program for local middle and high school students and led a weekly meeting to pray with her peers and share in their faith journeys together. She’s also a member of Fieldstone United Methodist Church, and she has dedicated much time the church’s youth group and to reviving their community garden to provide food for a local food pantry.

Following graduation, Nina plans to attend seminary to pursue a master’s of Divinity. One day, she’d like to run a farm open to kids in the foster care system, with the hopes of teaching them about life and faith in the same environment she grew up in.

Nina, for your resilience, your passion, your self-awareness, and your empathy, I’m pleased to present you with the Aspire! Award for SELF-UNDERSTANDING AND INTEGRITY.

2017-2018 Aspirations Breakfasts*

April 27, 2018
Owens Banquet Room, 8-10 a.m.

*Registration is required to attend the Breakfast.

Aspire! Awards History

Past Recipients

April 27, 2018 Recipients

Akshay Rajendran - Curiosity
Lea Neumann - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Hunter Anderson - Civility
Miguel Parrado - Courageous Leadership
Matthew Morency - Ut Prosim

Stephany Brown - Ut Prosim

Dan Maguire - Ut Prosim

March 23, 2018 Recipients

Travis Bauer - Curiosity
Ben Batman - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Brian Kehs - Civility
Juan Hernandez - Courageous Leadership
Jaclyn Marmol - Ut Prosim

Krista Gwilliam - Courageous Leadership

February 23, 2018 Recipients

Sam Buck - Curiosity
Amy Chen - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jaclyn Abramson - Civility
Andrew Peck - Courageous Leadership
Bethany Lackey - Ut Prosim

Maggie Holmes – Curiosity

December 1, 2017 Recipients

DeAngelo Haynes - Curiosity
Hadley Carter - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Nick McDaniel - Civility
Stephanie Lemus-Ortiz - Courageous Leadership
Noah Jennings - Ut Prosim

Chris Wise – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 27, 2017 Recipients

Jordan Kuhn - Curiosity
Joseph Walker - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Harley Curran - Civility
Fahad Ashraf - Courageous Leadership
Julia Monroe - Ut Prosim

Laurie Fritsch – Curiosity

April 21, 2017 Recipients

Bobby Hollingsworth - Curiosity
Annemarie Bresson - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Christopher Bardo - Civility
Nala Chehade - Courageous Leadership
Elizabeth Galbreath - Ut Prosim

Hillary KovacsUt Prosim

Robert and Kara JuliusUt Prosim
Jerry Colyer [posthumous award] – Ut Prosim

March 17, 2017 Recipients

Mitch Clements - Curiosity
Samantha Nichole DiBiaso - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Maria Jernigan - Civility
Manjot Kaur - Courageous Leadership
Stephen Pistoia, Jr. - Ut Prosim

Lt. Tony Haga – Courageous Leadership

February 17, 2017 Recipients

Danielle Jeffers - Curiosity
Colleen McGovern - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Min Kyung “Julie” Sim - Civility
Lamont “Gucci” Livingston - Courageous Leadership
Jacob Long - Ut Prosim

Alece Alderson – Civility

November 4, 2016 Recipients

Rhiannon Hasenauer - Ut Prosim
Zack Sever - Civility
David Gardner - Courageous Leadership
Zachary Hoopes - Curiosity
Bridger Johnson - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Jon Fritsch – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 7, 2016 Recipients

Zachariah Ewen - Ut Prosim
Jordan Evans - Civility
Megan Lee Myklegard - Courageous Leadership
Alex Hamilton - Curiosity
Bryan Faulkner - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Catherine Cotrupi – Curiosity

April 22, 2016 Recipients
Samantha Hall - Ut Prosim
Charelle Berry - Civility
Audrey Semel - Courageous
Jess King - Curiosity
Mike Schoka - Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Frances KeeneUt Prosim

John GrahamUt Prosim

March 18, 2016 Recipients
Joe Frazier – Civility
Nina Miller – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Jacob Rosenthal – Curiosity
Haley BurgessUt Prosim
Tanushri Shankar – Courageous

Susan Anderson – Courageous

February 19, 2016 Recipients
Javier González-Rocha – Self-Understanding and Integrity
Obaid Rehman – Civility
Claire Kelling – Courageous
Meghan McLoughlinUt Prosim
Erica Nagotko – Curiosity

Anthony Purcell – Civility

November 13, 2015 Recipients
Kelsi Faley – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Nivedha Balan – Civility
Rachel Cotton – Courageous
Ryan HopkinsUt Prosim
Caroline Amodeo – Curiosity

Gladys Sartin– Self-Understanding
and Integrity

October 2, 2015 Recipients
Walter Gonsiewski – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Seyi Olusina – Civility
Skyler Mueller – Courageous
Anastasia MatusiewiczUt Prosim
Natasha Laramie – Curiosity

Vera Kidd – Curiosity

April, 2015 Recipients
Ankit Saigal – Curiosity
Baker Martin – Courageous
Nicole Selz
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Brett MontagueUt Prosim
Conor Cosgrove – Civility

Residence Life Resource Officer John TarterUt Prosim

Robby MoserUt Prosim

March, 2015 Recipients
Juan de la Rosa Diaz – Courageous
Jamaica Sykes – Curiosity
Luke Birch
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jake VoorheesUt Prosim
Turki Saad Al-Zahrani – Civility

Captain Jim Snyder – Courageous Leadership

February, 2015 Recipients
Catherine Goggins – Courageous
Allison Laclede – Curiosity
Samuel Aguilar Chavez
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Larissa PeraraUt Prosim
Lauren Cashman – Civility

Jay Read – Civility

November 14, 2014 Recipients
Andrew George – – Courageous
Esther Moon – Curiosity
Kaleigh Leal – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Stephen Bennett Ut Prosim
Philip Norman – Civility

Scott Busiel – Self–understanding and Integrity

October 3, 2014 Recipients
Patrick AckerUt Prosim
Ethan Poole – Civility
Danielle Smalls – Courageous
Emily Neer – Curiosity
Austin Dickey – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Robin Boucher – Curiosity

April 25, 2014 Recipients
Brent AshleyUt Prosim
Anna Isserow – Civility
Daniel Evans – Courageous
Jacalyn Polis – Curiosity
Neal Moriconi – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Tricia SmithUt Prosim

March 21, 2014 Recipients
Meredith Cahill
Natasha Chadha
Wes Williams
Emma Cohen
Emily Blair

Belinda Pauley

February 21, 2014 Recipients
Meghan Gilliam
Steven Gethard
Kylie Gilbert
Ashley Taylor
Emily Brown

Kelley Woods-Johnson

November 8, 2013 Recipients
Jordan Disney
Kelly Berry
Daniel Pierce-Parra
Anusha Rizvi
Camryn Sorg

Lyndsy Manz

October 11, 2013 Recipients
Rob Grimm
John Turbyfill
Brendan Craig
Thomas Friss
Chris Atkins

Meredith Hampton