LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ashley Miller didn’t take a traditional path in her graduate career.
A former pageant winner and state representative candidate, Miller, 32, has been awarded the Guy Stevenson Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, the highest honor the University of Louisville gives to graduating doctoral students. Miller will receive her Ph.D. from the UofL School of Nursing at spring commencement Saturday, May 14, at the KFC Yum! Center.
Named after a former dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, the award is given in the fall and spring semesters to the most outstanding doctoral graduate who excels in scholarship and leadership.
As the recipient, Miller will carry the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies banner at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation Ceremony and the university-wide Commencement Ceremony on May 14. She also will speak at the Hooding Ceremony.
Miller was raised in Louisville and is co-owner of Athena Health and Wellness, a boutique-style health center for women where she works as a women’s health nurse practitioner.
While working and attending school full-time in 2014, she ran for state representative of the 32nd District in east Louisville, losing to Phil Moffett.
“She ran a campaign for political office while pursuing a Ph.D., which is borderline unheard of,” said Ben Wetherbee, coordinator of graduate affairs at UofL. “The award committee was enthusiastically blown away by that.”
Miller received her B.S.N. from Berea College and her M.S.N. from UofL.
She is the first person in her family to graduate from college and supported her education by participating in beauty pageants to take advantage of scholarship programs. Miller won Ms. Kentucky United States in 2013, Miss Black Ohio in 2010 and Miss University of Louisville in 2008. Her success in pageants provided enough scholarship money to pay for her master’s education.
Miller said she was humbled to receive the Guy Stevenson Award.
“I think when you’re in the program and you’re working so hard toward a goal, you really don’t pay attention to the stuff around you that you’ve achieved, so it definitely feels amazing for someone to tap you and say we think your work is amazing,” Miller said. “It’s a pillar of hope for other people that you really can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough and stay persistent.”