College student finds leadership opportunities at CCGA

·4 min read

Oct. 28—Alex Miller had little experience sailing when she signed on to support the creation of the Sailing Club at College of Coastal Georgia.

She quickly learned, though, and then began recruiting other students to the club, which competed for the first time earlier this month at an event in Daytona, Fla.

As a founding member of the club, Miller was proud to see the student group represent the college.

"We were competing against other schools like North Carolina State, University of Florida, so it was a really big deal for Coastal to represent in that kind of arena," said Miller, a senior biology student at the college. "It was just really good to be able to meet people from other schools that were doing the same type of thing."

Her experience with the Sailing Club is one of many that have shaped Miller as a student and leader as she prepares for the next chapter of her academic journey.

Miller was recently accepted into medical school at Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she will begin taking classes after she graduates in December from CCGA.

Miller grew up with a desire to be a doctor, inspired largely by her father's work in the medical profession.

"My dad is actually a nurse ... All my life I've gotten to watch him interact with different people and just get to make a really strong impact on other people's lives," she said.

Miller is from Bristol, in the Virginia/Tennessee area, and she'll be moving closer to home when she begins medical school in July.

"The school also just really focuses on giving back to the community, especially with rural, underserved medical communities," Miller said. "That was a big draw for me because I am from a rural, underserved area."

Miller has witnessed how the pandemic has impacted the healthcare jobs of several family members, one of whom is an ICU nurse.

"Of course her job completely changed during (the COVID-19 pandemic)," Miller said. "She had tons of COVID patients."

The pandemic has contributed to Miller's interest in educating the public about healthcare.

"Whenever I am in that position of being a doctor, I want to try to do my best to educate people on living a better, healthier life and about getting vaccinated, about doing everything they can to protect themselves and also others," she said.

Although she grew up about seven hours north of coastal Georgia, Miller became familiar with the area through frequent visits with family friends who've lived on St. Simons Island for the past decade.

Her love for the Golden Isles inspired her to tour CCGA's campus as a prospective student. But it was the professors she met while on campus who convinced her to apply and become a Mariner.

"They just spoke so highly of the college and the programs and were just eager to get to know me," Miller said. "They also told me about their science programs, their nursing programs and just how well respected those different programs were and how successful a lot of their students have been. That just really stood out to me."

The small campus was also an enticement.

Her involvement in the Sailing Club began during her sophomore year. The club had been discussed on campus for a couple of years before it officially formed, Miller said, and she worked with the club's president, Nellie Little, to get the group fully off the ground.

"I'd never sailed before," Miller said. "Nellie had had a little bit of experience in sailing, but I was completely new to it. We just kind of dove right in. I learned how to sail, and since then we've been recruiting new members and also teaching them."

Miller has been active on the college's campus in numerous ways, serving as a residence assistant, a tutor for other students and a member of the First Mates program, through which student leaders give campus tours and help recruit new students.

She's also become involved in her local church, St. Simons Community Church.

Miller will join the college's winter graduates for commencement Dec. 11.

Her experiences at CCGA have prepared her for the next step in her journey, she said, and helped her earn acceptance into medical school.

"I've had so many current physicians say, 'It's wild to think that you were even able to get in on the first try,' because that's a big accomplishment itself, but I feel like a lot of that's from Coastal and just how supportive all of my professors have been," Miller said. "They really get to know you at Coastal, so when it comes time to ask professors for recommendation letters it's almost hard to choose which ones to ask because they just know you so well and they're able to really give you that good recommendation."

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