For Anderson resident Temple Miller—a newly minted Anderson University graduate—it was worth waiting 27 years to get her bachelor’s degree. Miller, 48, and hundreds of other Anderson University students received their diplomas during a two-hour ceremony Saturday inside the Ward Fieldhouse at the Kardatzke Wellness Center. While most of the 20-somethings getting their sheepskins have yet to fully begin their lives, it was life changes that postponed Miller earning her bachelor’s degree in English.
Before going to Anderson University, Miller last stepped inside a college classroom nearly 30 years ago when she was enrolled at Gulf Coast Bible College in Houston. But her education got sidetracked. First it was supporting her husband, Tim, in his career, and then, of course, came children.
“One baby came, then another baby came, and then, finally, a third baby came,” Miller said.
Instead of going back to school, she opened up Twin T’s hair salon on East 10th Street, a business she owned and operated for 17 years before, she said, she felt the compulsion to close.
“I loved doing hair,” she said. “It was great to schedule around the kids ball games, and I was my own boss.
“But I started feeling like I wanted to get out from under it.”
She closed the business on July 31, 2001, a business move that proved fortuitous. A few days later, her life would change again.
On Aug. 11, her husband, daughter Tara and son T.J. were involved in a two-vehicle collision along Alexandria Pike that left the three of them seriously injured. They were all riding in a older pickup — driven by then-17-year-old T.J. — that was struck nearly head-on by a sport-utility vehicle, Miller said.
Tara, then 12 years old and riding between her father and brother and restrained by only a lap belt, was the most severely injured. Miller said the crash was initially called in to emergency responders as a fatality.
“I realized how quickly everything can be gone,” she said.
Tara, who will be a freshman at Ball State University in the fall, suffered three broken bones in the back, and a severe head injury.
“The left side of her face was basically crushed in,” she said.
It would be a year before Tara would return to school, and Miller feels it was part of a larger plan that she sold her business when she did. But after her daughter began to fully recover, Miller felt the urge to write.
“I wanted to do more writing,” she said. “I need the tools to help me.”
Miller took her first writing class at Anderson University in 2003. And like the dominoes that fell to keep her from graduating decades ago, so did her desire to complete her degree.
“I never planned to graduate,” Miller said. “I was just going to take some writing classes.”
And now, four years from that first writing class — and, well, 27 years since she was last in college — she walked across the stage Saturday and accepted her rightfully earned diploma.
“I loved it,” she said of going to Anderson. “I loved the professors. It’s gone by so fast. It’s hard to believe I’m graduating.”
---Writer Shawn McGrath is a reporter with The Herald Bulletin in Anderson. Story and photo reprinted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.