Coastal Carolina University

Rachel L. Miller (2011)

My First Generation Story

Being a first-generation college student is a great learning experience for my parents and me. My parents never had the opportunity, or the support, to pursue an education outside of high school. We are all learning from my transition from high school to college. As I explore my independence, my parents are supportive of my decisions, all while learning to accept that I am no longer living at home and that I have begun to learn to provide for myself. My parents push me to accept challenges, and believe that I can achieve any goal I work for. As a first-generation college student, I am now able to give advice to my younger sister, who will begin attending college in the fall, about what to expect and how to deal with stressful situations when they arise.

I decided in kindergarten that I wanted to attend college, and since I am the first person in my family who will receive a degree, I have big dreams for myself. I fell in love with sharks at a young age, and with my degree in Marine Science, I hope to conduct research on sharks and educate the public about conservation of not only sharks, but also the ocean in its entirety. I hope to spread my love of the ocean to future generations, ensuring that my great, great grandchildren can enjoy this amazing resource.

Coastal Carolina University has provided me with numerous opportunities to expand my horizons. As a small, but growing, university, the small classroom sizes allow for the creation of close relationships between students and professors. In my experience at Coastal, every professor has had an open door policy and has been more than willing to help students outside of the classroom. I have also had the opportunity to work with faculty members on projects; in September 2009, I had the opportunity to participate in a research trip that involved catching, measuring, and tagging sharks off the coast of South Carolina. I was in charge of taking pictures and keeping data, and I also got to touch a shark! Next year, I look forward to participating in more research trips like this.

Any student who is deciding whether or not to attend college should keep in mind that if they are willing to work hard, there is no reason why they would not be able to be successful in college. If financial issues are holding the student back, they should keep in mind that the university, as well as the government, is willing to help the student overcome financial obstacles in order to pursue a higher education. My advice to future generations of college students is to never give up on themselves, and that anything they dream can become a reality for them. I’ve worked hard to get to college, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of those around me who have held their faith in me since I decided to attend college.

About the Student

Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller, of Midlothian, Ill., is a sophomore marine science major at Coastal Carolina University. She is completing a Spanish minor and will begin a biology minor in Spring 2011. She has been on the Dean’s List each semester. Rachel is a member of the University’s Honor Program, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, Alpha Mu Gamma Honor Society, and Golden Key International Honor Society. She is a tutor in Physics and Writing University’s in the Learning Assistance Centers. Following graduation, Rachel hopes to use her degree to conduct research on sharks and teach ocean conservation to future generations.

Student Stats

Name: Rachel L. Miller (2011)
Age: 19
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Marine Science
Favorite Course: Biology of Marine Mammals
Dream Job: Researching sharks and teaching conservation

About the School

FGV: Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina University is a dynamic, public comprehensive liberal arts institution located in Conway, just minutes from the resort area of Myrtle Beach, S.C. The University offers 51 baccalaureate degree programs and master's degree programs in education, writing, marine and wetland studies, and the MBA. Ten new undergraduate degree programs were added in 2010, including biochemistry, economics, graphic design, information systems, musical theatre, theatre arts, and sociology.



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662