Are you aware of Oak Hammock’s scholarship program? Initiated in 2019, the OHICAN! Scholarship program has helped over 20 recipients achieve their academic dreams. Siera Miller, a senior advertising student at the University of Florida, has been a member of the Oak Hammock family since September 2018.
Starting her path as a server in the Independent Living-dining department, Siera developed quite the relationship with residents and staff on campus and found a way to further her career path while staying on staff at Oak Hammock. As of June 2021, she became an intern for the sales and marketing department while still working part-time as a server and attending school full-time.
Siera notes the challenge of being a full-time student and working alongside to offset the costs. “It can be burdensome when juggling living costs alongside school,” Siera said. “I had to figure out a plan to make my dreams a reality, but without the scholarship program, I would not be where I am today with my studies.” Several students find it challenging to juggle work and school, but many have no choice. Siera’s story is a relatable one.
Always dedicated, Siera never took “no” for an answer in her academic career. From grade school to high school, education has impacted her life and driven her toward the current path she travels. “I’ve participated in honors and advanced placement programs since I was a child,” Siera said. “It became difficult to do that when it came to my family’s financial situation. I’d work to help my parents pay for my education while they struggled to get by with everything else.” Although it was difficult, she made her situation work to her advantage, transforming her professional and academic life.
Siera said it feels surreal to have come so far as she approaches graduation this year. “I’ve worked professionally since I was in high school,” Siera said. “Academically, I feel like I’ve been working my entire life to get to where I am now. It has given me a perspective that some have not experienced. I’d be a very different person had I not experienced being a working student.” She began extending her gratitude and story of her experiences with the scholarship committee when she applied for the OHICAN! Scholarship at Oak Hammock.
She hadn’t found out about the program and its benefits until a fellow recipient notified her of its existence in the summer of 2020. First applying for the Fall 2020 semester, Siera shared her story and academic history with OHICAN!’s committee members, which earned her full tuition coverage for the upcoming semester. With that considerable weight off of her shoulders, she no longer had to worry about the financial stresses of paying for her academic pursuits.
The committee members were incredibly supportive of her decision to pursue advertising as a career. Since then, Siera has applied for the OHICAN! scholarship every semester and has lived without the worry of tuition for years. “Working with the committee has been an unforgettable experience,” Siera said. “I feel like I have an additional set of cheerleaders, aside from my family, rooting for me as I navigate the path to my degree,” Siera said; she will be forever grateful to the scholarship committee members and to those who donate to OHICAN! She feels the residents are what makes this program so unique.
Currently, Siera still interns with Oak Hammock and has had the ability to join professional clubs at the University of Florida to further her career path. She is a member of the University of Florida’s AdSociety, a club that allows undergraduate students to explore their career options in advertising. AdSociety has allowed her to explore her creative and technical potential and build her portfolio for upcoming interviews in the future.
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