Dr. Dorothy Miller gave birth to her daughter when she was just 15 years old. Despite the odds, she was motivated to continue her education and earned a Bachelor Of Science in Nursing (BSN), a master’s degree, and then a doctoral degree.
On May 7, her daughter Chaquita Bandy graduated from nursing school at St. Andrews University – a nursing program that Miller created. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that the mother and daughter realized they had obtained their BSN degrees 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 told local station WRAL news. “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!'”
Dr. Miller grew up in a rural community in Pinetops, North Carolina, where, despite limited resources, she says her mother always told her not to let her upbringing dictate her future. Miller’s mother supported her daughter even after she became pregnant at 15.
“Her goal for me was to not stop school,” she said of her daughter’s grandmother. “I had my child on a Friday, and my mother made sure I was in school that next Monday.”
Even after pursuing a career in the military, Miller was aware of how education changed the trajectory of her life. When she left the military, Miller went to nursing school full-time and worked two jobs to support Bandy and her other children.
Miller is now the department chair of health sciences at St. Andrews University and is running for the Board of Nursing in her home state. Remembering her background, she aspires to solve healthcare disparities in small towns like the one she grew up in and retain skilled nurses in these regions.
“Coming from a lower socioeconomic background…I knew that education was a path for me,” she said.
In 2021, Miller established the first nursing program at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg. Bandy, her daughter, was the first nursing student to complete the program. She now works in the intensive care unit at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.
Looking back at her accomplishments, Miller said she will never forget her 15-year-old self and the struggles she overcame.
“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, it pushed me to do something outside of me so that I could have a better future for her.”