“What some people saw as a mistake, having a child so young, to me was a catalyst,” said Dorothy Miller, who gave birth to her daughter in ninth grade at the age of 15. Having her child as a teen and coming from a low socioeconomic background pushed Miller to do more to ensure her daughter had a bright future.
So, despite the challenges, Miller went to nursing school, earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a master’s degree then a Ph.D., and is now the department chair of health sciences at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg.
Her daughter Shaquita Bandy also recently graduated from nursing school from a nursing program Miller created at St. Andrews University. What is more interesting is that the two earned their BSN degrees the very same day, 13 years apart, WRAL News reported.
“It is interesting because we were at the car wash, washing the car, and her degree was laying in the trunk,” Bandy said to the outlet. “So I opened it and I said, ‘Did you know that you graduated on May 7?’ And she was like, ‘Really?’ Then I opened mine and I was like, ‘We graduated on the same day!’”
When Miller got pregnant decades ago, her mother became her greatest support, she recalled. Her mom didn’t want her to abandon her education so three days after Miller gave birth, her mom made sure that she was back in school. Family and friends thought that Miller wasn’t going to achieve much in her career but she decided to prove them wrong. Growing up in the rural town of Pinetops, North Carolina, Miller always wanted to be a police officer or a nurse. So after being able to complete high school, Miller left her daughter, who was then 5, to her mother to enable her to join the military. From the military, she went to nursing school, working two jobs in the process to ensure she could take care of her daughter Bandy and the other children she had given birth to.
“I got my associate degree, and then I got my bachelor’s degree and my master’s, and then I got my PhD, and then another master’s,” said Miller, who launched the first nursing school at St. Andrews University in 2021.
Today, her daughter Bandy, who became one of the first nursing students to graduate from her program, works in the intensive care unit at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. It wasn’t easy being in nursing school for Bandy, especially going through a program that was established by her mother. “It’s tremendous pressure, but they say pressure makes diamonds,” she said.
Her mother Miller is hoping to tackle a shortage of health providers in rural towns as she runs for the North Carolina Board of Nursing.