Reflections from Beth Miller, IDP 00, MA 03
From Watkinson Library-Shibboleth Trinity on April 30th, 2020
My Trinity Story: Beth Miller, IDP ’00, MA ‘03
My Trinity Story began in 1996 when the woman I nannied for said, “Beth, you have to go back to college. You are too smart not to have a degree.” She went on to tell me about Trinity College’s IDP for adults, and I got an application. The completed application sat on my desk for a few weeks until I had the guts to submit it. I was interviewed by eight professors and administrators all at once. When I left, I sat in my car and cried – not because I didn’t do well, but because I did do well, and I was terrified I would screw up my college plans for the 3rd time.
I failed out of college once (Syracuse University) and dropped out the second time (Central Connecticut State University). The year before I left for Syracuse, in 1985, my father died from a brain tumor. A week before his death, I was sexually assaulted. Those two traumatic events, combined with my lack of support and experience as a first generation student, conspired against collegiate success. Ten years later, Trinity gave me a third chance.
I started going to school part time. Then, I blew my ACL in my left knee, my husband started supporting me, and we decided it made sense for me to go to school full time. I did, and my marriage started to fail. After a year of trying, followed by escalating emotional abuse, I knew I had to leave. I had no money, no job, and still had not completed my degree.
School, however, had been going well, and the First Year Seminar Program wanted me to be me an academic mentor. When I realized that I had to leave my marriage, I went to the FY Seminar office and asked if the room they had reserved for me was still available. My boss said, “Do you need it?” And I replied, “I think I do.” At age 31, I left my husband with only my clothes and schoolbooks, and I moved into a First Year dormitory.
I had a full course load both semesters, wrote editorials for the Trinity Tripod, and wrote and edited the Trinity Feminist Journal and the Women’s Center Newsletter. I played flute in a trio and quartet and was a Writing Associate for the Trinity Writing Center. My friends let me have extra meals off their meal plan, and the food service staff saved me extra sandwiches after luncheons.
At graduation, I was awarded the Ann Petry Book Prize in American Studies, the D.G. Brinton Thompson Prize in U.S. History, the Samuel S Fishzohn Award for Civil Rights and Community Service, the Elma H. Martin Prize for Student Leadership, and the Tyler Award in Interdisciplinary Studies. I was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa national honor society, earned a 3.82 cumulative GPA was 12th in my class, and served as the Presidential Fellow representing the Women’s Studies Department. I also handled my own divorce.
After graduation, I was offered a graduate fellowship and created a Graduate tutoring program for the College, and I was approached by the Writing Department and asked to teach ENG 101. I went from nearly homeless adult student to adjunct faculty in less than one year.
Trinity College utterly changed the trajectory of my life. I am now a seasoned nonprofit leader and serve as the Executive Director of the Creative Education Foundation. I currently serve as a Trustee of the Ahearn Family Foundation, and recently completed my six-year tenure as a member of the Trinity College National Alumni Association Executive Committee.
My award-winning Senior Seminar Thesis, “Challenging Race and Gender Boundaries in Antebellum America,” about Prudence Crandall was adapted as the play, “An Education in Prudence,” produced by the Open Theater Project in Boston, MA in February 2018. My Master’s Thesis entitled “The Evolution of Co-Education at Trinity College, 1968-1983”, earned me Distinction and will be included in the 50th Anniversary of Coeducation Time Capsule. In 2017, I received an honorary PhD in Arts and Humane Letters from Southern New Hampshire University for my academic and professional achievements. And this year, I was proud to be recognized by Trinity College as one of the “50 Women for the Next 50 Years.”
The success in my life today is wholly attributable to the opportunities offered to me by Trinity College. I am deeply grateful, and I am not done yet.