7/30/19 Samara Miller

Samara Miller, from Naperville, Illinois, will graduate Saturday.

Samara Miller, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, will be the first athlete to graduate with a “Degree in 3” during Saturday's commencement.

Miller runs track and initially got into the sport because of her uncle.

“I had an uncle who wanted me to run track since I was a little girl. I was really heavy into ballet, and he passed away suddenly at the age of 39 from a heart attack,” she said. “I decided to give up my pre-professional ballet career and started running track.”

The Degree in 3 is a recent accelerated format for students to get a degree in three years as opposed to four. This is done by taking classes over the summer and having a full course load for all three years.

Earning the degree in three years was difficult, according to Miller, who had to alter her schedule this summer to take fewer classes.

“It’s hard when you’re an athlete, because obviously major classes are difficult, and they’re higher level education,” she said. “There’s a lot of long nights and early mornings, but it worked out.”

Miller was on track to graduate before she signed up for Degree in 3, she said.

Since she red-shirted her first season, which is when an athlete is kept out of competition to extend their period of playing eligibility, graduating early means she will have extra eligibility that she plans to use to pay for graduate school. Miller will enter the Krannert School of Management to study human resource management.

She said she wants to be a sports attorney or a diversity inclusion officer and plans to attend law school after her graduate studies.

“I know I can’t run track the rest of my life,” she said, “and I can’t be a college athlete for the rest of my life, so I want to work with college athletes.”

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