Cambridge student participates in new college program

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic
Mikel Miller

    A first-year student from Cambridge has been chosen to participate in an innovative program at Illinois College that seeks to enhance the academic future for students who are the first members of their family to pursue a college degree.

    Mikel Miller is among a group of 18 Yates Fellows who began their college studies Aug. 31 on the campus of the liberal arts college in Jacksonville. 

    Miller, a 2010 Cambridge High School graduate, is the son of Scott and Silke Miller of Cambridge.

    The ground-breaking program is named for Richard Yates, an 1835 graduate of Illinois College who went on to serve as the governor of Illinois from 1861 to 1865. Yates was the first student to receive a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution of higher learning in Illinois.

    Illinois College is one of 20 colleges and universities nationwide participating in the WalMart College Success Awards Program. Dr. Elizabeth Tobin, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, said the $100,000 award used to implement the program was presented to institutions that have demonstrated a commitment to serving the needs of first-generation college students.

    "Forty percent of Illinois College students are first-generation students," explained Tobin. "These students enter college with wonderful ambition and goals, but also often face extraordinary challenges in pursuing a college degree.”

    "Illinois College is a community in which students can be known – by each other, by their instructors, by the administrators and staff," the college’s chief academic officer stated. "We are using this strength to more effectively engage first-generation college students in ways that begin early – immediately upon their arrival on campus – and continue to help them feel connected to each other, to Illinois College and to their hopes and dreams."

    Colleges that have been selected for the WalMart College Success Awards have developed programs that result in higher percentages of graduates among their first-generation college students than the national average, and many graduate first-generation students at the same rate as all other students," Tobin stated.