First-Generation Student's Big Dreams Include Her Southern Arkansas Hometown

Student Jada Miller helps a child with crafts at an event to support Arkansas Hands and Voices.
Kelley O'Rourke

Student Jada Miller helps a child with crafts at an event to support Arkansas Hands and Voices.

It was her freshman year at the University of Arkansas and Jada Miller was struggling.

Biology class was a beast.

A first-generation student, she had the pressure of paying for school herself. Failure was not an option. One day, Miller's roommate thundered into their dorm room, excited about passing the Praxis exam, a test necessary to start courses in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

She was intrigued.

After a positive meeting with an advisor about the program, Miller enrolled in Introduction to Communication Disorders to see if becoming a speech pathologist might be right for her.

It was love at first class.

It felt like the right major for her. But it also made Miller think of the community she'd left behind in El Dorado, Arkansas. She's determined to take her degree back home and provide speech-language pathology services to her hometown and to encourage residents to pursue health-related careers.

"It's important that I return home to encourage and support my community," she said. "There are a lot of broken neighborhoods. Hopefully, being an available resource for others from the same city will push students and families to seek services if needed or attend school to further their education."

Miller is graduating from the U of A this week. The next step is grad school in the College of Education and Health Professions. She'll need a master's degree to practice as a speech-language pathologist.

Miller is tenacious, and she also has a big heart. She grew up caring for a family member with special needs. Since then, she's volunteered at the Yvonne Richardson Community Center and the non-profit rEcess, which provides services to children with special needs. 

Miller is one to watch. She's already a difference-maker, and is poised to create an amazing future for herself, her community and beyond.

This story is the latest in a series called the Dean's Spotlight, featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit COEHP's online magazine, the Colleague for more news from the six units that make up the College. Visit the Communication Sciences and Disorders page for more information.


Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions


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