A HIGH DEGREE OF DETERMINATION

Disability doesn’t stop long-distance student from powering through degree

 
This is how Bill Miller ME ’13 rolls: With serious determination.

The 36-year-old, of Leesburg, Fla., graduated in May from WCU’s online master’s degree program in entrepreneurship. This comes five years since he graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, also earned online. That achievement came 11 years after a fall dislocated two vertebrae in his neck and left him a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair.

Bill Miller

Commencement weekend was the first time that Bill Miller ME ’13 (center) met some of his classmates, including (from left) Jeremy Balog ME ’13, Arlene Childers ME ’13, Sharon Martin ’94 ME ’13 and Lindsay Keene ME ’13.

Miller’s trip to Cullowhee for commencement was the first time he met his professors and some of his classmates in person and saw the WCU campus, which he said is “absolutely beautiful,” according to the Orlando Sentinel, which produced a story about his achievement. Miller was recognized as the entrepreneurship program’s 2013 outstanding student.

According to Miller, who keeps a personal website at www.lookmomnohands.net, his goal since his injury has been to improve physically as well as remain productive. A decade ago, Miller and a partner developed a device that attaches to a wheelchair and allows quadriplegics to bowl. He then co-founded a company, called Manufacturing Genuine Thrills, to sell the device. And by the way, Miller bowls a 255.

Miller also uses his injury as a platform to speak to church groups, Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce and schools, the paper reported. “My brain is very active. I’m never bored,” Miller said, adding that he plans to write a book about his experience.

With his entrepreneurship degree in hand, Miller’s next goal is to secure work as a teacher at the college level, he told the paper. “Entrepreneurship is what this country needs to thrive again, economically speaking. If I can do a small part to help people start their own business, I feel like I can make a difference for people and my small part of the country,” he said.