SALT LAKE CITY — Gail Miller’s foundation, the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, has a soft spot for education.
“And part of that, I think, stems from the fact that neither Larry or I have a college degree,” Miller told the Deseret News. “I attended one quarter. Larry dropped out after six weeks.”
From individual scholarships to larger grants benefiting learning facilities, the foundation has a history of education-based philanthropy. And this year, the foundation is donating $55,000 to the Deseret News/KSL Sterling Scholar Awards. This money will go toward Sterling Scholar scholarships statewide, helping certain rural areas that don’t always receive adequate scholarship funding.
At the awards ceremony, a student will receive the Gail Miller Community Service Award, which honors a student for his or her exceptional community service efforts. The Sterling Scholar program recognizes high school seniors “for the pursuit of excellence in scholarship, leadership and citizenship in the state of Utah,” according to the program’s website. During her interview with the Deseret News, Miller referenced one of her company’s guiding principles: “Be a student. Be a teacher. Be a leader.”
“I think when a student gets out into the community and does service one-on-one, or in a group, they get a picture of life that’s different than sitting at their phone and texting or watching videos,” Miller said. “It gives them that human touch where they can feel worthwhile, and they can serve other people and help them feel worthwhile.”
Miller describes education as an “exponential opportunity.” When a person learns something, their individual life is enriched. When that person teaches their new knowledge to someone else, their circle of influence grows. That continues as each person pays it forward.
“It’s something that you can have and own and keep, and enrich yourself from, but you can still give it away and never be at a loss,” she said.Comment on this story
Time, Miller said, is a difficult resource to use wisely. Allocating time for service in one’s education — and into one’s own life generally — helps the person be “richer in the long run.”
“When you’re born, your life is all about you. And it stays that way for a long time,” she said. “But when you become an adult, and you realize there are other people who are important besides you, then you start stepping outside of yourself. And that’s when you can serve others, and that’s when your life becomes meaningful.”