GVSU Education Programs News

Alumna Emily Miller interviewed

June 10, 2022

Alumna Emily Miller interviewed

Grand Valley is home for Rory ’14 and Emily ’14, ’20 Miller. Not only is it the place where they earned their degrees, but it is also where they met, fell in love, and got married. Even as they move forward with their careers and plans for the future, Grand Valley continues to be a part of their heart and identity. Today, the Millers support the university through service and philanthropic giving. Their dedication and generosity are helping to ensure the success of students and the impact Grand Valley will have in the future.

Emily Miller is a double graduate from GVSU's Education Programs with an M.Ed. degree in Instruction and Curriculum for Elementary Education, and a B.A. in Art Education. Emily works as an Elementary Art Teacher for Allendale Public Schools. Rory Miller is a Facilities Furniture Technician Lead at Herman Miller and completed a B.S. in Communications. The university thanks the Millers for all they do for Grand Valley.


How did you meet?

Emily: We met in the printmaking studio at Calder Art Center on the Allendale Campus.


How do you like to spend your free time?

Rory: I enjoy visiting craft breweries, playing disc golf, and attending car shows.

Emily: I like hiking, going for walks, volunteering for many organizations, drinking coffee, and relaxing with my cats.


What is your favorite memory of Grand Valley?

Rory: Driving to Alabama in 2009 with my roommates for the Lakers’ football national championship game. 

Emily: I enjoyed working with our National Art Education Association (NAEA) student chapter and decorating the Kirkhof 2020 desk during Homecoming with the theme “No Place Like Grand Valley.”


How has being a member of the Laker community helped to shape you?

Rory: Both of my parents are Grand Valley graduates. I grew up on campus and attended events. It was a natural decision to attend Grand Valley after high school because it was familiar and I knew the great opportunities the university would present to me. 

Emily: As a student, I was part of the NAEA student chapter, but I did not feel like I gave back enough. After graduating, I wanted to do more, so I started volunteering as part of the College of Education Alumni Board. Soon after, it turned into more by becoming part of the Alumni Association. Now, as an educator and as a Laker alumna, I try to connect Lakers back to Grand Valley, no matter their area of expertise.


What is your favorite Laker pride moment?

Emily: Our wedding! It had everything culminating our Grand Valley experience — even President Haas, Marcia Haas, and Louie attended. We were married at Cook-DeWitt and had our reception downtown at the Eberhard Center. Rory walked in to “Come Sail Away” by Styx and I walked in to the Alma Mater. It also offered the opportunity for our friends and family to visit both campuses and see the beauty that is Grand Valley, experiencing what we had for the last several years.


You are both members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. What are your responsibilities?

Rory: Our responsibilities are to work with the university’s Alumni Relations team to build our alumni networks and give back to students. We attend board meetings, volunteer at GVSU events, and facilitate relationships between alumni and the university.


Emily, you also serve on the Education Alumni Board. What are your responsibilities with that group?

Emily: I work with the Alumni Relations team and the Center for Educational Partnerships to reach out to our current student teachers and teacher assistants. I engage GVSU alumni leaders at local and statewide districts to connect with our students and prepare them to enter the education workforce.


Why have you chosen to give back financially to Grand Valley?

Rory: Grand Valley is near and dear to our hearts and home; we love watching it grow and seeing the Laker Effect spread throughout the communities nationwide.


Why did you decide to make a planned gift?

Emily: We established a set percentage in our will to help sustain education and art at the university and to alleviate the financial burden that higher education may place on some learners, allowing them to pursue their goals and career ambitions. You can’t take it with you, so giving back to something greater than ourselves that will benefit future generations of learners, leaders, and Lakers is a worthy cause.


Why is it important to you to continue your relations with Grand Valley after graduation?

Emily: Relationships, both personal and professional, made during our Grand Valley years are those that will continue throughout our lives. We feel our relationship with Grand Valley is one and the same.


What would you say to encourage other alumni to give back?

Rory: Giving back does not need to be much, it can be $5 a month, which is a cup of coffee or a pint of craft beer. You need to start somewhere, find an organization or cause within the university that is near and dear to you, and make that commitment. Think about the memories you have with the university and decide what those memories are worth financially.


For More Information about Planned Giving:

Planned giving includes gifts you leave in your will, estate, or retirement account that are typically invested in long-term endowments that pay off for generations. To learn more about planned giving at Grand Valley contact Andrew Bixel, Director of Endowed and Planned Giving, at (616) 331-5619 or email [email protected].


The article photograph by Valerie Hendrickson features Emily and Rory Miller.

This interview was originally published in the Grand Valley Magazine. For more information on this story, contact Mary Ouellette-Maine in University Development - (616) 331-6000.

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Page last modified June 10, 2022