- Spring Valley Center for Exploration
2021 Graduates: Kearney Miller Made the Most of High School
To look at her list of high school achievements, you wouldn’t guess that Kearney Miller ever described herself as introverted.
“I think I struggled a little in my freshman and sophomore years. I was definitely still in my shell,” Miller said. “ You just have to force yourself to put yourself out there and be involved. It started to come to me more naturally in my junior year.”
Miller, 18, is the daughter of Geanice and Jerry Miller. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School this year and in the fall will be attending Albion College, where she plans to study integrative marketing and public policy.
If you know her, the first thing you might associate her name with is softball. The pitcher, who sometimes plays first base and outfield, has committed to play for Albion. She began playing when she was 5 or 6, making her way through Little League and travel teams.
“I just feel like softball is the best of both worlds. I feel like it’s an individual sport as well as a team sport,” she said. “You’re part of a team but you’re also holding yourself accountable for what you can do for the team.”
While softball has been the mainstay of her high school days, she’s also dabbled in lots of other activities and especially found a passion for community service and activism. In addition to softball, she was involved in marching band and FCCLA — the career and technical student organization that stands for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
“I definitely discovered my interests along the way,” she said. “I got more involved in the National Honor Society in my junior year and that opened more opportunities, especially with the Kalamazoo Central Climate Advocates.”
That group, working with physics teacher Josh Gottlieb, won a $10,000 prize to promote sustainability measures at the school through the Lexus Eco Challenge. Many of the group’s plans were scuttled by the pandemic — but Miller is hoping other students will take up the cause and work with administrators to impact green efforts at KC.
“With the last year and the pandemic the issue has been on the back burner, but I think there is space for the immediate issue and other pressing issues. It’s easy to get distracted,” Miller said.
“But climate change really is a universal concern. It’s affecting everybody and it will affect everyone no matter what their socioeconomic status is.”
Her work on climate issues as well as volunteering with FCCLA and organizing Kalamazoo Central’s annual food drive helped her earn a Social Justice Youth Award from the City of Kalamazoo this year.
At the end of her sophomore year and beginning of her junior year, she became an even more integral part of sports life at KC by working the scoreboard and in the press box at football and soccer games, announcing players and subs and relaying plays over the public address system.
“I’ve always dabbled in a lot of sports but I’ve only ever played softball,” she said. “I appreciated other sports and I started to really enjoy them more. Plus, I felt more connected to other students.”
If she has one suggestion for other students, it’s to get involved, make friends, be a part of something.
“Being connected to your school improves school in every area,” she said. “It impacted my academics and made me more aware of other students and people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Kalamazoo Central has such a wide offering of groups, there’s something for everyone.”