Published: Dec. 7, 2022 By

As a child, Jeffrey Miller struggled with reading and paying attention in school. Diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, Miller worked hard and was able to progress through each grade.

His persistence paid off in a big way. Miller will receive a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from CU Boulder in December. He also is the recipient of the 2022 Perseverance Award from the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Hard work is the only thing that will get you anywhere,” he said. “If I learned one thing while in college, it is to persevere.”

Teaching Professor Wendy Young said she has seen Miller work hard to achieve his dreams.  "Jeff has admirably pushed through many obstacles to achieve success in the chemical engineering degree," she said.

A difficult road
By the middle of first grade, Miller was no longer progressing with reading, and testing showed he was dyslexic. He subsequently attended two hours of tutoring five days a week during the summer between first and second grade and one hour a day through second grade. Then in sixth grade, he was also diagnosed with ADHD. 

He attended a small expeditionary learning high school with a graduating class of five. The school's philosophy was to problem solve using what your failures taught you, he said. After graduating high school, Miller wanted to attend CU Boulder, and he took the ACT four times to try to improve his score.  “I knew I could improve, and I did better each time I took it,” he said.

Miller said he was "thrilled" to be accepted into CU Boulder, but he was not originally accepted into the College of Engineering and Applied Science, which was his goal. Despite working hard his freshman year, he needed to attend summer school to transfer into engineering. Making it even more challenging, two weeks into taking Calculus 2, he became ill with mononucleosis. 

“I was miserable, but I knew I’d be even more miserable if I didn’t make my goal,” he said.

Miller reached his goal and transferred into the college. Then at the beginning of his sophomore year, he developed a stress-related stomach ulcer. 

“I was finally in the college of my dreams, but I was constantly in pain,” he said. “I could not let this slow me down.”

Despite those obstacles, Miller persisted, and he will graduate on time.

“My advice to future students is to understand your weaknesses,”  he said. “Just because some things are difficult, doesn’t mean you can’t improve.”