SU grants a young girl’s wish

Shelby DeHaven, ‘Doah Managing Editor
October 23, 2013

'Doah photo by Liz Levey

‘Doah photo by Liz Levey

To a lot of college students, it seems like there is too much that we need accomplish in the traditional four years at Shenandoah University. For one special student, her time at Shenandoah University started and ended on Oct. 11, 2013.

Currently 10-years-old, Gabriella Miller was diagnosed with brain cancer in Nov. 2012. Because of her diagnosis, Gabriella was granted three wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

One was to go to Paris – which she achieved in early 2013. The second was to become a published author. Gabriella became a contributing writer in the book “Beamer learns about Cancer,” written by Cindy Chambers. And lastly, her wish was to graduate college – a dream Shenandoah University made possible.

On the morning of Oct. 11, Gabriella became an S.U. student the same way any freshmen would.  Dr. Rhonda Van Dyke Colby told her the story of Shenandoah and Gabriella received her star. From there, she spent the day just like any other student.She hung out with some college students in the lobby of Parker Hall. She attended classes, took quizzes and even turned in homework. Gabriella got to sit through an English class, Biology lab, dance class, singing and an FYS class.

At 3 p.m., members of the S.U. community, and Gabriella’s friends and family gathered in the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre to watch the commencement ceremony of Gabriella Victoria Miller.

As Rev. Justin Allen stated in his invocation “young she is mighty, young she is wise.” And throughout the ceremony, everyone echoed that sentiment. SGA president, Josh McCauley stated, “Gabriella fits perfectly under the excellence that Shenandoah University stands for.”

In addition to her diploma, Gabriella was also awarded the President’s Medal by Andrew Ferrari, chairman of the board of trustees. She was awarded this honor in recognition of her speaking engagements, her foundation, the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, and becoming a spokesman for childhood cancer. She has also raised $275,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and $15,000 for a childhood brain tumor foundation.

Before she even arrived on campus, Gabriella was winning the hearts of the S.U. community and it was no different in her address. She described her day in college and shared the story about the frog, Bob who she played a dissection game with during Biology lab – Bob lost.

She pointed out that during biology she was able to label some of the parts of the frog better than the normal students. “Its cool to know that I might be smarter than some of these students.” She was very excited to come back and learn more in eight years.

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