Class of 2017 Graduate Grateful for the NGU Community
Students have their own unique stories as to what brings them to North Greenville University. One member of the Class of 2017 knew in the third grade that she wanted to attend NGU. Courtney Mills, from Taylors, was excited to attend her dream school four years ago and on Friday, was one of over 350 graduates excited to receive their diploma.
Mills knew she wanted to be a teacher and she wanted to study at NGU.
“I love the people, the atmosphere, and most of all the Christ-centered education. I love the community of believers, all learning together,” said Mills. “I have realized that I made the best decision of my life by attending NGU. I met my very best friends here and created lifelong relationships. I learned so much and my professors really equipped me to do what I am doing today, which is teaching.”
Her life has changed dramatically since the first time she visited the campus four years ago. She didn’t realize at that time that the Christian friendships and relationships she would form while a student at NGU would be a source of encouragement and strength for her later in her college career.
Mills’ family owns a towing service and while she and her father, Eddie Mills, were eating dinner together on November 5, 2015, they received a call that someone needed help with their car on Interstate 85. Mills rode with her father, which she did many times, to load the broken down vehicle onto their tow truck.
“While my dad was loading the car onto the back of our truck, a man in a pick-up truck was not paying attention and ran over my dad,” Mills said. “As I got him [her dad] out of the road and waited on the ambulance to get there, I cried out to the Lord on my knees asking that He would give us a miracle.”
She knew it was not going to be good after having watched the truck hit him.
“I asked the Lord to help me not be angry with Him if He decided to take my dad on home. This is exactly what He did a few hours later at the hospital. That was when my biggest nightmare became a reality. We walked out of the hospital as a family of three, rather than four,” said Mills.
Obviously, this tragedy has changed Mills’ life in so many ways.
“The Lord gave me the strength to stand and testify of His faithfulness and to tell others how important it is to have a relationship with Him,” she said.
Her father’s death has completely changed the way she views time spent with others, showing how much she cares, and living each day as if it is truly her last.
“It has shaped me to be more dependent on the Lord and recognize that only He is in control. It has made me a much better person and allowed me to look at the eternal instead of this brief moment,” she said.
She attributes Jesus’ grace along with her church, family, and friends, and NGU for getting her through the difficult times stating, “He gives us the amount we need exactly when we need it. He only asks us to follow Him one step at a time. He doesn't ask us to worry about the future but to rest in today. He is capable of holding the whole world in His hands.”
“We need others. That is the point of the church, to build each other up and bear each other's burdens. My family and friends were right beside me all the way cheering me on and encouraging me to persevere in the midst of so much confusion.”
One of her biggest blessings of this journey, she says, has been the NGU family, specifically Sue Suomi, a personal counselor at NGU.
“Counseling is so beneficial. It helps you work through so many questions, doubts, and fears. I loved getting to learn from Ms. Sue and she taught me so many ways to cope with my grief and anxiety.”
Mills graduated on Friday with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is currently a long-term sub in fourth grade gifted and talented at Lyman Elementary School in Lyman, SC.
“I hope to have a job soon,” she said. She plans to continue her studies to earn a master’s degree in counseling, special education, or speech pathology.
Mills’ advice to those haven't gone through something like this, is be ready.
“Each person will at some point experience grief. You must make sure you are grounded in your relationship with the Lord before the storm hits. He will hold you. Until it happens to you, you think you would never survive it. You won't, but He will and you are in Him,” Mills said.
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