JANUARY 20, 2010

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Soldier Welcomes Long-Awaited Diploma

Photo of LU President and staff receiving a HUD Grant.
Mechanical engineering technology senior Joe Miller received his diploma in December. It has taken Miller 12 years to earn his bachelor's degree. During this time Miller, who is married and a father of four, was deployed three times and suffered an injury overseas.


It’s been a long road to graduation for one Oklahoma State University student, who credits motivation from various sources and funding from the military for his educational success.

Joe Miller, a mechanical engineering technology senior, has six years of active duty with the Army National Guard. He has been on the path to graduation since he started college at Arkansas State University in 1997. While both he and his brother were studying there, they joined the Guard as a way to help their parents financially with the cost of school.

After serving for a few years, Miller moved to Oklahoma, where he continued classes at Tulsa Community College and was deployed to Afghanistan about a year later.

Upon his return, he began taking courses at OSU. He was married in 2007, shortly before being deployed to Iraq. Until his marriage, Miller had been serving in the military, taking college courses, and raising his son as a single father. By this point he was 10 years into his college career, and had not received his bachelor’s degree.

“There have been so many times I just wanted to give up,” Miller said. “I represent the third generation in my family to attend OSU, so that’s what motivated me to keep going.”

Nevertheless, after returning from Iraq because of an injury, Miller began to feel frustration that he had not yet completed his coursework to receive a degree. He took nearly a year off, and decided his college career might be over. However, his wife’s encouragement, along with his own determination, pushed him to finish.

Miller graduated in December with a degree in mechanical engineering technology. He will soon move to Texas, where he has a job lined up as a pipeline engineer.

Although it has been a long road, he appreciates everything the military has provided for him. “If it wasn’t for the military, I wouldn’t be able to graduate. They’ve got me everything that I have. Everything up to this point has been because of the military.”