My name is Fannie Miller. I grew up in the Geauga County Amish community in Ohio. My childhood was simple and we were quite poor. I was second oldest in a family of fifteen children. My dad was a hard-working man who loved his family. He was generally a happy, kind, and jolly person. He was intelligent, loved to read, and loved to tell stories. I attribute my love for learning in large part to my father’s example. My mother was kept very busy with her pregnancies, newborns, and the work of raising her large family. She often struggled to keep up with all her duties. I remember her as taking time with her children, making crafty things with us, helping us create playhouses, stocking our book shelves with reading books, and letting us be children. We loved each other. In my younger years, I thought of home as being the one place where all was right.
My longing for acceptance became a stumbling block for me in my teenage years. My family was not highly respected in our community. I came to believe that if our family would all just conform to what the Amish community wanted we would be more respected.
I took up the position of teacher’s helper soon after I graduated from eighth grade. I continued teaching in Amish schools for five years.
I got married and my husband did not try to fit in to the Amish expectations either. In looking back, I now see this lack of acceptance by the Amish people as a vehicle that ended up making it easier for me to leave the community.
I then took a position as a teacher’s aide in the local public school.
At age 26, I sensed a deep longing for something more. I became a Christian and I was quite vocal about my new-found faith and ended up causing quite a stir in my family and Amish community. I wanted to leave but also felt the urge to stay and tell my story so that other Amish could find the peace I had found. A few of my best friends and eleven of my siblings eventually made an exodus from the Amish community, both before and after I took the step to move on.
Soon after leaving the Amish, my husband and I became foster parents, providing care for infants and toddlers. We adopted three sons. I became interested in nursing as I observed the home health care nurses who came to our house to provide needed care to my medically fragile foster babies. I remember thinking that nursing would be such a fulfilling job. However, like most people who leave the Amish, I really did not give thought to trying to get a degree. I would have loved to go to college years before I did, however, in my mind it just was not a possibility.
When my marriage ended, I suddenly had to consider my future earnings status. My financial future appeared bleak. My brother and his wife suggested that I consider college. That was the first time someone presented me with the thought that college was an option. I was fifty-two by then and gave momentary thought to maybe being too old to start college. I had the wisdom to override those thoughts with my deep sense of knowing that it is never too late to choose to turn toward a more desirable and advantageous path. I immediately responded by setting in motion the process of applying to our local college, Kent State University, (KSU) Trumbull with the plan to pursue a degree in Nursing. KSU has a Nursing program rated as fourth in the nation.
I started classes in the fall of 2009. I have done very well. I have had to work extremely hard because I had determined from the beginning that I wanted to finish knowing I had given my very best. I am employed on campus as a student assistant and nursing tutor in the Academic/Accessibility Services Department. I have just taken a second job as a resident assistant at an assisted living facility. I also do volunteer work. Along with school, work, and volunteering, I am the sole provider of physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial support for two of my sons.
I have applied and received many scholarships for which I am thankful. I am especially proud of having been chosen as a recipient of the Amish Descendant Scholarship Fund. The financial support from the ADSF and other scholarships has given me the opportunity to be more focused on my coursework and less concerned about my finances.
I am scheduled for graduation in May, 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and will graduate with honors. I plan to begin my nursing career while I continue my educational pursuits with a Masters Degree in Public Health. I have an interest in Geriatrics, hospice care, newborn intensive care, and AIDS/HIV care. My future looks exciting to me and I hope to make a difference in the world around me. Although I have always loved life and the various endeavors with which I have been involved, my aim is to make the second half of my life be the most fulfilling and rewarding yet. Earning my degree is like a dream come true. I am grateful to the ADSFund for helping me to realize this dream.