CofC Student Veteran Champions Collaboration Across Campus

Students, Campus Life, All News

Navy vet and astrophysics-physics-biochemistry triple major Jackie Miller has championed fellow veterans as well as inclusivity among diverse communities across campus.

Jackie Miller ’25 was recognized by Jared Lyon as a finalist for the Student Veteran of the Year at the SVA National Convention.

The College of Charleston recently saw one of its own student veterans recognized as a finalist for the esteemed Student Veteran of the Year Award. Jacquelin Miller, the president of the College’s Student Veterans of America chapter, stood out for her exceptional leadership and dedication.

Established in 2008, the Student Veterans of America has nearly 1,600 chapters nationwide and three international chapters. In December 2023, the annual Student Veterans of America National Conference drew more than 2,200 attendees to Nashville, Tennessee, to honor and support veteran students.

Nominees for the Student Veteran of the Year Award are submitted by an advisor or SVA member. The nominator explains how the student demonstrates leadership within the veteran, campus and greater community.

“When I was filling out the nomination for Jackie, I couldn’t even use half of the things she does,” says Jessica Wilkes, director of the College of Charleston Veteran and Military Student Services. “That’s how involved she is.”

Miller was proud to represent the College.

“It was rewarding to see the College of Charleston get put on the map,” she says. “Now anyone who is looking into schools knows that veterans are welcome at the College.”

In 2017, uncertain about her academic path and wary of taking on student loans, Miller landed on joining the Navy as an electronics technician (nuclear). She felt she had discovered a promising avenue for growth and fulfillment. Regrettably, medical issues cut her journey short.

“During my time in the military, I graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a B.S. in nuclear energy engineering technology,” explains Miller. “After being medically retired, my experience with personal health issues led me to pursue a degree with a focus on the medical field.”

Miller enrolled at the College of Charleston to pursue an astrophysics-physics-biochemistry triple major, with a minor in biomedical physics. Upon completing her studies at the College, she plans to attend medical school to become a radiation oncologist.

Jackie Miller ’25 with Micah Watson (left) and Shane Schroeder, executive board members of the College of Charleston Student Veterans of America chapter, in front of her poster during the 2023 SVA National Convention in Nashville.

Miller’s leadership exceeds the boundaries of the student veteran community. She serves as the secretary for the College’s Neurodiversity Initiative, which is dedicated to raising awareness about neurodiverse conditions and the challenges associated with navigating college. Her commitment to advocacy extends to promoting accessibility and necessary accommodations for all students on campus.

She volunteers for the Medical University of South Carolina’s surgical oncology unit, aiding staff and offering companionship to patients experiencing loneliness or anxiety. Additionally, she previously served as a lab volunteer at MUSC, researching the tumor microenvironment in pancreatic cancer.

In the summer of 2023, Miller was involved in CofC research focusing on resolving extended X-ray emissions in gravitationally lensed quasars.

As the membership development coordinator for Charleston Miracle, Miller contributes to raising awareness and funds for the MUSC Children’s Hospital.

“It’s very easy to isolate yourself and maintain the veteran identity,” explains Miller. “Veterans don’t interact with traditional students or other organizations on campus, and they’re often afraid to get help from the resources that we have here.”

The SVA helps veteran students successfully adjust from the military to college through campus advocacy, social events, volunteer opportunities and camaraderie. Upon emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the College’s SVA chapter found itself with a sparse executive board, as many of its members had graduated. Miller’s first action as president was establishing a network among veteran students.

“I sort of roped my friends into it,” says Miller. “I made it clear that, without a treasurer, the whole operation would grind to a halt. Funny thing is, my now-husband became the treasurer. From there, word got around, especially among my circle in the veterans’ lounge.”

The SVA club at CofC currently has 63 members, a 75% increase from when Miller started.

“She has connections to every part of campus,” says Wilkes. “She’s not confined to our little community, and she’s encouraging everybody to branch out as well.

“In spring 2022, our institution launched a Veteran Peer Advisor Program, and Jacquelin was one of our first peer advisors,” adds Wilkes. “Initially, our program focused on new first-semester students, but Jacquelin discovered an issue not previously identified — that second-semester students were struggling, too. Many second-semester students admitted to being overconfident and taking a challenging courseload that was too demanding, putting them at risk of poor grades and academic probation. If it were not for Jacquelin’s passion, problem-solving skills and adaptability, our SVA chapter and advisor program would be ineffective.”

Through her active involvement in SVA and various campus initiatives, Miller has not only supported fellow veterans but has also championed inclusivity and collaboration across diverse communities. She stresses the importance of veteran students being involved in campus organizations beyond the SVA, which is why she is constantly building connections throughout CofC.

Miller’s recognition as a finalist for the Student Veteran of the Year Award underscores the impact of her leadership and advocacy. Her nomination serves to elevate the College of Charleston’s profile and highlight the vital role of veteran students in higher education.

Looking ahead, Miller’s vision for greater engagement and participation of veteran students in campus life reflects her ongoing dedication to fostering a supportive environment where all students feel valued and empowered. As she continues to pursue her academic and professional goals, her legacy of service and leadership will undoubtedly inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

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