This is a story about a gritty student who was dealt a set of difficult circumstances but used them to propel her forward. It is about a powerful mentorship that formed organically, driven by an instinct to stay after class and a professor’s unwavering desire to guide and inspire.
These two elements facilitated the admission of marketing major and incoming junior Grace Miller into one of Fisher’s flagship programs: the Honors Cohort. It amounted to a thorough account of what Cohort looks for in its students and what the process of applying to the program looks like.
It all began last spring semester. Ty Shepfer’s Business Skills and Environment lecture topic that day focused on jobs that no longer exist. Miller, buried in the audience of Schoenbaum 105, listened intently.
“Ty was such a captivating speaker,” Miller said. “His 2292 course was the first business class I truly enjoyed.”
As the lecture ended, an urge to meet Shepfer drove Miller past the sea of people waiting for the exit.
All it took was five minutes of conversation for Miller to realize that she had a lot more to learn from Shepfer. She had watched a peer go through the Cohort program, but this was the moment in which she recognized that she too could expand her mind to new ideas.
“I think I have more to learn than to give,” Miller thought at the time. “And that is why I applied to Cohort.”
The timing of the application process had been difficult for Miller.
“My mom fell twice. She lives by herself. I had to go home for two weeks to take care of her right when applications came out,” Miller said. “I was struggling to keep up with my grades.”
She decided to lean on the mentorship that was beginning to take shape with Shepfer.
“I sat down with Ty and voiced my concerns,” Miller said. “All he had to say to me was ‘Are you going to shut yourself down before you try?’ He gave me a book called The Power of Habit, and everything in the book was saying ‘You have to try. You owe it to yourself to do this.’”
The first task required for the application was to create a video that demonstrated what Miller was passionate about in life.
“It was my favorite part of the application,” she said. “I am passionate about making connections and was excited to illustrate that.”
She took this opportunity to delve into that passion, embracing the impossible task of approaching 80 strangers and asking them a very personal question: “what are you passionate about?”
“Once I started to explain to people what I was doing, they really opened up,” she said. “People love to talk about what they really like.”
It was a humbling yet eye-opening experience to take a breather from studying and learn from others.
“If we are going to solve any problems in this world, it has to come from a place of understanding,” Miller said.
In today’s world of intense scrutiny, Miller aims to set an example by widening her own perspective.
The essay portion of the application process was equally impactful. The prompt asked Miller to dive into a childhood experience that helped shape who she had become.
Miller knew exactly what she wanted to talk about.
“I talked about losing my father – my role model,” she said. “The essay allowed me to revisit those feelings. It can be hard to give that attention on a typical day; it takes a lot of energy. But he left me with so many teachings, and it is important I apply those.” When Miller got the phone call from Ty welcoming her to the program, she was exhilarated.
“I will remember that experience – where I was and all – for a very long time, she said.”
This past summer Miller worked as a market research intern for Avery Dennison in Cleveland analyzing the company’s holographic material portfolio. As she gained exposure to the corporate world puzzle, that craving to learn was fed."
“It was a summer of learning – learning what I want to do next and what I do not want to do,” she said.
View Grace Miller's Honors Cohort application video