Dr. Dorothy Miller launched the first nursing school at St. Andrews University in 2021 and her daughter became the very first nursing student to graduate from the program.
Dr. Dorothy Miller, who serves as the St. Andrews University Department Chair of Health Services in Laurinburg, gave birth to her first daughter at the age of 15. An impoverished teen mom from a rural community in North Carolina, she got to witness her daughter graduate from a nursing program she created... 40 years later. Miller received her own nursing degree just 13 years ago and beamed with pride when her eldest daughter, Chaquita Bandy, graduated from St. Andrews University on May 7.
"My mother had to stop going to school when she was in the third grade because she had to go work on the farms," the 56-year-old told PEOPLE. "She knew that education would be the vehicle that would take me to a better future. She lived to see me become a registered nurse," Miller added. "I wish she could have been here physically to see that grandbaby she helped raised become a registered nurse as well, but Chaquita and I felt mom smiling and beaming down on us at her graduation."
Former Teen Mom's Daughter Graduates Nursing School Exactly 13 Years After Her — and Credits Her Mom https://t.co/0hiSi82SJt— People (@people) July 23, 2023
Miller always knew she wanted to become a nurse but there many obstacles along the way. "Domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and poverty seem to be constant bedfellows and I experienced all three growing up," Miller shared. "My way of escape was reading. I read everything I could get my hands on. Reading created a window of escape as I would often fantasize about what life would be like outside my rural and impoverished community." She hit another roadblock when she got pregnant while she was just in ninth grade but her mom pushed her to keep going to school. “I had a wonderful mother when I was going through all that at 15.”
Miller said per WRAL. “Her goal for me was to not stop school. I had my child on a Friday, and my mother made sure I was in school that next Monday.” She was also determined to not let anything stop her from achieving her dreams. “I'm just one of those stubborn kinds of people,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to help people, growing up I wanted to either be a nurse or a police officer.” Miller went on to get her associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s, a Ph.D. as well as another master’s. Now when Miller looks back, she doesn't see her teenage pregnancy as a roadblock. “Nobody should be able to tell you what your future is,” Miller said. “What some people saw as a mistake, having a child so young, to me was a catalyst. I think that if I hadn't been given the opportunity to have that child, I wouldn't have accomplished what I did. Having her, pushed me to do something outside of me so that I could have a better future for her.”
Incredibly, Miller launched the first nursing school at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg in 2021 and her daughter became the very first nursing student to graduate from the program. Bandy now works in the intensive care unit at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. She says she owes it all to her strong mother. “She gave me everything I needed to make sure I'm successful,” Bandy said. “You can imagine the pressure, though, coming through a program that was just established by your mother, being the first one to graduate, trying to make sure that you keep the program going … it’s tremendous pressure, but they say pressure makes diamonds.” They even got their BSN degrees on the very same day, exactly 13 years apart. “It is interesting because we were at the car wash, washing the car, and her degree was laying in the trunk,” Bandy said. “So I opened it and I said, 'Did you know that you graduated on May 7?' And she was like, 'Really?' Then I opened mine and I was like, 'We graduated on the same day!'”