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Trisha Miller: Contributions help make Culver Academies what it is

Tom Coyne

Nov. 3, 2022

As her 50-year class reunion nears, Trisha Miller ’75 is more engaged than ever with her Culver classmates.

She was on campus recently to begin planning for that milestone reunion and reflected on why she has stayed so engaged with her classmates.

“Because the people from here have the loyalty, the interest, and I think we've all grown in the time since we graduated,” she said. “I've heard this, this isn't just me, but other people have said it, we now talk to each other and engage when we didn't as students, when we of course thought we knew everything. It’s amazing what we've learned since then.”

Miller said that growing up in Herrin, Illinois, a middle-class community of about 12,500 residents in southern Illinois, about two hours southeast of St. Louis, she didn’t see a lot of diversity.  That changed when she transferred to Culver for her senior year.  

“There were people from different countries, different states and we all seemed to connect and stay together,” she said. “Here you stay connected. It’s different when you've lived with people for nine months out of the year.”

Her older brother, Karl ’76, was already at Culver Military Academy when she arrived, and she started at Culver the same year as her youngest brother Keith ’79. She had initially attended another boarding school, then went to the public high school in her hometown, but switched to Culver looking for a greater academic challenge.

She said she found what she was looking for at Culver, including learning critical thinking and how to question ideas respectfully and question if there are better ways of doing something.

“The discipline for studying was something else that certainly helped me,” she said.

She fondly recalls taking “Myths and Legends” taught by English teacher John Hartley as well as “Literature of the Old Testament,” which led her to read to Isaac Asimov’s “Guide to the Bible.” She also remembers history teachers Col. Charles “Charlie” Lewis and Col. Melvyn Estey telling stories of their military experiences.

“They had lived through a lot. It was interesting. It was more than you could get from history books,” she said.

Miller said she gives to Culver regularly because she got so much from the school and because it helped prepare her for a career as a lawyer.

“If you enjoyed your time here or got something out of it, it’s because someone gave, whether it was $50 or $5,000 or $50,000, those donations contributed to that,” she said.

Miller moved in 2011 from Chicago, where condominium law was her specialty, back to Herrin, where she now focuses on probate and family law.

She said the traffic is much better in Herrin and has had fun renovating an old home she bought.

Miller said that when she talks with people who don’t know Culver, she tells them what makes it special is that people from around the world form a community where they live and learn together and the strong education they received.

Miller describes Culver as Indiana’s version of Brigadoon, an enchanted place where life is simpler.

“We had absolutely wonderful exposure to all sorts of things even out here behind the Cornsilk Curtain, as some people term it,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for people academically and socially.”

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