A Rewarding Journey

Fannie Miller

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.

Fannie MillerI 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.


Posted in Scholarship Winners
18 comments on “A Rewarding Journey
  1. Lynnanne says:

    Congratulations, Fannie! And well deserved.

  2. Andy Weaver says:

    So proud of you,sister.Congratulations! Great job!!!!!

  3. Karen Pollard says:

    Good for you! It’s never too late to find a new path-go for it! I’m sure you find nursing very rewarding.

  4. Betty Baker says:

    I am so very proud of you Fannie! If our daddy can see you from Heaven he is most certainly proud and smiling. More importantly, The Father is well pleased with your hard work and perseverance as you finished an endeavor that appeared impossible in the beginning. Congratulations!

    • Fannie Miller says:

      Betty, I often think of that myself. I can almost hear Dad’s voice proudly telling others, “My daughter is getting a nursing degree.”

  5. Nancy Miller says:

    Way to go Fannie!!! SO proud of your accomplishments. I remember working for my degree, being surprised I could do it beacuse as a young girl I never dreamed I would be anything but a Mother and a Wife. It was a good feeling to find out sometimes God has other plans for our life. I’m a stay at home Mom now but look forward to returning to work when my kids are older. I hope anyone reading your story can realize they can accomplish their dreams regardless of their upbringing. I know a lot of people let the lack of education hold them back from pursuing their dreams. Anybody can learn.

  6. Fannie Miller says:

    Thanks, Nancy. I am thinking we would love to hear your story.

  7. Mary Lukach says:

    You have done very well in school and have been one of my best students. You have worked hard and overcome many obstacles in your life to reach your goals. You will be a wonderful nurse and make a difference in the lives of your patients and in the nursing profession.

    • Fannie Miller says:

      Thanks, Mrs. Lukach. My success as a student has been greatly aided by you and the rest of the wonderful nursing faculty at Kent State University, Trumbull.

  8. John Clark says:

    After all these years it is nice to feel that I have finally gotten to know you better. I will share this with Linda who will be glad to read it, too. Congratulations and continued blessings to you.
    John Clark

  9. Emma Miller says:

    Fannie, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I’m so happy that you were a recipient of an ADSF scholarship. All the best for your remaining years in college – I can’t wait to see a photo of you in that square hat!!

  10. Dale Murphy says:

    Congratulations Fannie! Wishing you the best in your future nursing career!!

  11. Lisa Yoder says:

    Congratulations Fannie! Hard work and perseverance pay off and will follow you far beyond the classroom. Be Blessed as you Bless others.

  12. Rosemarie MacInnis, MSN, CNP says:

    Dear Fannie: I was doing some research on Amish women who left their communities and then became nurses. Nursing history is interesting to me and I also have a fascination with understanding other religions. So, that brought me here. I read your story and the word perseverance best describes my thoughts about you and your journey. I’ve always thought how difficult it is to not just leave your community, but your family and everything you’ve ever known, striking out into a strange, new world full of unfamiliar things. I LOVE these stories about former Amish furthering their education and using the intelligence that God has given them to help others and better their own lives. All too frequently, children and teens take education for granted or use excuses as to why their lives are a mess when they are older. I guess what I am saying is if you and the others can do it with really no support system to speak of when first leaving the Amish, then anyone can do it. It just takes guts and determination, both of which you obviously have in plentiful supply! I just wanted to congratulate you on your upcoming graduation in May. How wonderful for you and good luck and God Bless as you continue your journey towards your MSN! Rose MacInnis, Cincinnati, OH

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