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ryan Miller


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Hello! My name is Ryan Miller. A little over seven years ago I dropped out of college. It was just before I hit my absolute rock bottom with my alcoholism. There was a rocky transition but, I am proud to say that I have been sober for over seven years now. It took a while but, I finally reached a place in my life where I am ready to go back to school to complete my Bachelors' degree at George Mason University. When I dropped out I had no idea what I wanted from life or even who I really was. After years of self reflection and a lot of work I am beginning to understand who I am and I know what I want. I want to start a career in Cyber Security to make the world a safer place for everyone. Finishing my bachelors is a big step in starting this new career. My biggest hurdle in completing the degree is funding it. I have been stuck in menial customer service jobs since getting sober and would like to start a new career that will help me provide more for my family and give me a challenging yet satisfying career. I hope to prove that I am worthy of some financial assistance. I will be sure to use any assistance given to help make this world a better place for everyone.


George Mason University

Bachelor's degree program
2024 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • English Language and Literature, General
    • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services, Other

American University

Technical bootcamp
2022 - 2022
  • Majors:
    • Security Science and Technology

Old Dominion University

Bachelor's degree program
2020 - 2020

Northern Virginia Community College

Associate's degree program
2009 - 2011
  • Majors:
    • Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities


  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Computer & Network Security

    • Dream career goals:

    • PUD Mail specialist

      2024 – Present6 months
    • HVAC Technician

      United Air Temp
      2015 – 2015
    • Assistant Team Lead

      Whole Foods Market
      2017 – 20236 years
    • Delivery Driver

      2013 – 20174 years
    • Closing Supervisor

      Fairfax County Park Authority
      2009 – 20134 years

    Future Interests





    Lost Dreams Awaken Scholarship
    Recovery is the process of growth, of finding new strengths, of trying to live up to the potential that each day offers. It is the opposite of addiction, which is decay, giving up your strength, and failing to even try. For eight years I gave up on life and myself allowing myself to fall into a negative feedback loop. I am lucky enough to have incredible parents who never gave up on me. At my lowest point when I was trying to push everyone away, my mother came to the motel I was holed up in. She was crying uncontrollably praying to God to reach out and help me. It was at that point I knew I couldn't keep dying in font of my family. It was time to start living, not just for them but, for myself. It was a tough road to travel and hard to see any progress for a long time. I have been sober now for seven years. I can't believe how much my life has improved and the strides I've made towards reaching my full potential. It's hard to see the changes on a day to day level. It's easy to get frustrated that you haven't reached your goals yet. But when look back and see how far you've come on your journey you can take solace that you're on the right path and know trying everyday to be better will eventually take you to places you never thought you could reach.
    Student Life Photography Scholarship
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    My struggles with depression and alcoholism have completely changed my outlook on life. My depression started when I was 13. My brother was a junior in high school and started hanging with a bad crowd. He was doing lots of drugs never went to school and started to get in trouble with the law. This caused many dramatic and traumatizing family arguments and lead to my brother disappearing for several months. Eventually after a few years my brother was able to get his life on track but I continued to fall further into depression for years after. The depression led to isolation which led to a sharp increase in social anxiety and thus the negative feedback loop was created. I was a loner all throughout high school with only a few friends I could talk to. Then in college I started to come out of my shell a bit with the social lubricant alcohol. It quickly became apparent that I did not process alcohol in a normal way. After my first party where I came out of my shell a bit the next three I went to I would drink till I blacked out, annoyed everyone by being an obnoxious drunk, and peed myself. After three weeks of this all of those friends had had enough and stopped returning my calls. This fueled my depression even more and instead of taking control of my life I fell back to the bottle and started drinking everyday. By 20 I was a full blown alcoholic, getting blackout drunk everyday alone. I had trapped myself in a negative feedback loop again. Everyday I woke up with shame and self loathing and everynight I used the bottle to nurse away the negative emotions. I was able to hide my drinking from my family and the few friends I had making up excuses like I have to work or I have school work to do for missing events due to being too drunk or hungover. y Eventually my grades started to slip and I was put on academic suspension. I was so scared to tell my parents I couldn't attend college the next semester I got drunker than I ever had blacked out and woke up in a jail cell. It was and still is the most terrified I have ever been. I was too unruly to be in the drunk tank so they threw me in a solitary cell. When woke up I had no idea where I was or what I had done. I was so scared I might have driven drunk and killed someone but I was lucky. The police had picked me up as I was stumbling to McDonalds. I hadn't killed anyone but I was ready to take my own life. I felt that I was unlovable that I could never get myself out of the hole I had dug for myself. When they released me the next morning I ran to a motel thinking I would go on a bender then end my life. After two days of drinking I called my Mom to say goodbye. She was able to track my phone and came to get me. I was still suicidal but I knew I wouldn't do anything while I was with my Mom. After a few day of arguing I agreed to go to rehab. I was 22 and had been clean for three months then I had to get shoulder surgery after dislocating my shoulder for the 2oth time. At first I thought I was going to be able to handle it. But the pain pills they gave me fueled my addict brain and within a month of the surgery I was back to sneaking out to get liquer. I fell right back into my old patterns, isolating, hiding my drinking, and falling deeper and deeper into depression. Years went by with my family and the few friends I had objecting to my drinking. Then the exact same cycle happened again at 25. I got put on academic suspension again, I was arrested for being drunk in public, went on an extra hard shame binge, then fell over a rail on to some stairs breaking and dislocating my elbow which required surgery. I was in rehab post surgery and nothing was sticking. I was just going to appease my family, I still hated myself, I still wanted to die, I still thought the only thing good that life had to offer mewas in a bottle. I continued to drink for two more years. I had already dropped out of school I had been on academic suspension twice, and every semester I followed the same trajectory. I would do well the first few weeks then start drinking more, then start drinking in class, then just drink and not even go to class.I could see that I was just wasting my money and since I was paying my own way through school I might as well quit and pursue my only passion, drinking. One day I decided I was done. I was going to check out but before I went I wanted to go see Zion National Park. It was the best decision I ever made. While I was in Zion something spoke to me, whether it was the land or God, or my subconscious I don't know. I do know that my entire outlook on life changed in a matter of days. I was finally able to see myself stuck in the downward spiral, and all the chaos and damage I had caused to myself and my loved ones. It wasn't an easy journey and there were bumps along the way but now I am proud to say I am seven years sober and no longer struggle with depression, at least not severe depression. I have worked hard to overcome who I used to be and strive everyday to be a better person, fiance, brother, son, student, friend, pet parent, and employee. Believe in yourself and love.
    Top Watch Newsletter Movie Fanatics Scholarship
    Seven Samurai is easily my pick for the one movie to watch for the rest of my life. Kurosawa's masterpiece is in my mind the highpoint of filmmaking in the 20th century. Not only has this story been replicated time and again in other movies TV shows and other media, but even amongst an incredible resume of films Seven Samurai stands head and shoulders above the rest. This movie has everything, action, adventure, beauty, thrills, romance, friendship, duty, it runs the the entire gambits of the human experience. It is a classic tale of good versus evil with dynamic and realistic characters. The basic plot is timeless humble villages beg samurai to help their village against a band of bandits determined to take all the village has. Each character is their own individual with their own flaws and redeeming characteristic. It is a great screen shot into feudal Japanese society but because the frame work of the story and characters are so true to the human experience they could be replanted into almost any time or location and feel just as true. Though the Japanese setting does give the film an extra sense of beauty and grace with the precision and attention to detail the Japanese and Kurosawa is known for. While each of the seven samurai is a fascinating and compelling character Kikuchiyo played by the incredible actor Mifune Toshiro steals the show. It is arguably his greatest role, and perhaps the greatest performance in any film ever. Kikuchiyo is the comic relief of the film but he is so much more. He has the greatest depth and range of any of the characters. Which is saying something as other than the bandits all the characters in the film are quite dynamic and grow as humans throughout the film. Kikuchiyo was born a poor farmer's son and became a ronin through hard work dedication and sheer stubbornness.While at first glance her seems to be a bit of a curmudgeon and a joke as the film progresses we see that there is much more to him. He is not the brash shellfish man he plays up. Underneath his bravado is a loving honorable man that will always put others first and cares very much about doing the right thing. Despite all his talk of only being out for himself it is his actions that show who he truly is, risking his life to save the little guy against a powerful hoard of greedy brandits. I personally connected more with Kikuchiyo than any of the other characters. I think this is because he was a forerunner to the antihero like Tony Soprano or Don Draper. He was a real person with many flaws and liked to play up his negative side. Unlike Tony or Don Kikuchiyo had a pure heart and wasn't quite as conflicted as the other two. His bravado and brashness seemed to be a response to growing up a poor farmer's son thus being looked down on his entire life.Whether he is rescuing a baby, training villagers, or taking down bandits Kikuchiyo is one of the most interesting characters in all of cinema. Not only is the story and characters supremely compelling but the cinematography is also fantastic. Directors have been borrowing from Kurawas genius for years and its easy to see why in Seven Samurai he has some of the most unique and iconic shots in any film especially with the technology available at the time. Every time you watch Seven Samurai you can find something new, beautiful, and truthful.
    RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
    "What our message now signifies is that the ability and means of learning is already present in the soul. As the eye could not turn from darkness to light unless the whole body moved, so it is that the mind can only turn around from the world of becoming to that of Being by a movement of the whole soul. The soul must learn, by degrees, to endure the contemplation of Being and the luminous realms. This is the Good, agreed?" This is an excerpt of The Allegory of the Cave which is part of Plato's most famous work "The Republic". The excerpt is a dialogue between Socrates and Plato's brother Glaukon. I believe this passage is one of the best summarizations of the human condition and a fantastic guide for improving oneself towards enlightenment or the Good. Which is the source of all creation and the ultimate truth of reality. The first sentence of the paragraph states the the ability to learn is inherent in the soul of all humans. This sentiment mirrors one of the greatest sections of any government documents ever created "all men are created equal" Written by Jefferson, from our very own Declaration of Independence. Both try to convey that all of humanity has an inherent ability to learn, grow, strive for true understanding or enlightenment. What Plato is able to show that Jefferson did not, is that our environment we are born into dictates our perception and ability to reach the Good. While we are all created equal we are not all placed in equal environments on the Earth. For those born into the cave they are stuck seeing only a distorted shadow of reality, They are limited in their ability to see the true nature of reality, just as all humans are randomly birthed into families, cultures, and religions that limit what truths are seen. This is true for all human no matter where or when they existed. We are born into a family or culture that has established their own truths already. Weather their truth's are partially correct or complete distortions of reality like the shadows on the cave, none of us are born with the ability to see the true nature of reality. Instead we are born with the potential to learn. How far we can take that potential depends on our environment and our own actions. In order to break free of these limiting ideologies and reach our full potential the human must take action. We must turn from the dark to the light moving our whole body so that the the mind can transition from becoming to Being. This part of the passage show the necessity of action, of continuous work towards enlightenment. Notice being is capitalized signifying a higher state that is being achieved that is getting closer to the Good or God, or the ultimate truth of reality. No human can achieve this or anything of value without action. The key to achievement of truth is dedication and sacrifice. In order to achieve one must put the work in the more time and effort you put in the greater the achievement will be. This is also a choice. One must choose to look away from the dark toward the light. It is an option all humans have and while not explicit in the text can be implied that free will is key to where a human ends up on this journey towards the Good. Will they be disciplined and take actions to better themselves or will they remain distracted by the shadows content that what they see is all there is. This passage also shows how there are stages or layers to achieving enlightenment or anything else. First you must master your body, for you can not control your mind if you are a slave to your base bodily urges. A key word here is whole,you must look at the body as a whole, as one and not compartmentalize different aspects of it. In order to reach our full potential we can not only focus on one aspect, we need to make our whole body insync to reach our full potential not just one aspect. For example a golfer can be an expert at their initial drive but have a horrible short game when they get on the green. In order to be a truly great golfer you must excel at every aspect of the game. The same is true for your body. One can not merely master their sexual urges only to be a gulton any time food is offered. Once you are able to move and control the body as one perfectly synchronistic being you can begin to work on doing the same to the mind. You have to start with the body as it is more uniform and predictable than the mind. The mind can be extremely chaotic and is even harder to control than the body. Just as with the body to master the mind requires action, one must have great disaline ad awareness. One can not let your mind wander and begin to dictate your thoughts or feelings. You must take control of your mind and guide your thoughts away from the darkness of the cave towards the good. It is a painful and difficult process, especially if the cave is all you have ever known, which is why you must go through all of this pursuit towards enlightenment incrementally, or as Plato says "by degrees". The longer we stay in the cave the harder it will be to get out of it and start to see the true nature of reality. Our thought processes get stuck in the old way of thinking and seeing the world. It is impossible to make a clean break from these old patterns of thinking, we must do it incrementally. The Masons have this built into their society, there are 33 degrees of Masonry each signifies a step closer to enlightenment and each is necessary to proceed onto the next. We can not go from zero to enlightenment. It is a process to training ones body mind and soul to become one unified Being in order to get closer to understanding the true nature of reality and knowing the Good. Once the body and the mind have been mastered one must attempt to master the soul. This is the hardest and most ephemeral aspect of one's being to understand and control. The soul is the humans direct connection to the Good and the essense of a human being. Your soul is a reflection of who you are. the combination of your mind and body, thoughts and actions. If you do not have control of your body and mind you have no chance at controlling your soul, which is the conduite to the divine through which enlightenment is possible only by achieving oneness or a complete unity/synchronization of your body, mind and spirit. Direct communion with the divine can not happen within a fractured being but only through a being that has done the work bit by bit, degree by degree to unify their entire being into the one vessel to be filled with the Good. We must start with the body because this is the most limited of the three. For instance the human eyes can only see what they see. Our eyes cannot perceive ultraviolet light. some our our eyes don't even accurately see color due to color blindness. We can overcome these limitations with our mind. For instance Isaac Newton discovered ultraviolet light by placing thermometers by a prism and saw that his control thermometer was hotter. He was able to infer that there must be another color on the spectrum that our eyes could not perceive. He overcame his body's limitations by using his mind. While we don't have any concrete evidence Plato implies the the souls is able to do the same for the mind. Perhaps though some connection to the divine our soul is able to overcome the limitations of our minds. The process of enlightenment or the journey to the Good isnot an altogether happy fulfilling journey. To learn the truth is not only hard work but also can be painful. As is said, "to endure the contemplation of Being and the luminous realms." these higher truths can be painful. So not only is it a struggle to obtain these higher truths it can be a burden to know them. Imagine a military officer who works their whole career to protect and serve his nation. Then they finally reach a certain level of advancement and are let in on a secret. Their nation intentionally harms some of their citizenry in some way for the greater good of protecting the nation and their larger population. The officer might have a very difficult time grappling with this larger truth and could become disillusioned with the nation they have dedicated their life to. The same could be true for those seeking enlightenment especially if they did not take every step or degree of knowledge to get there they won't be fully prepared or have all the tools or understanding to bare this new knowledge, which can break some people. Which is all the more reason to take this journey towards the Good on a slow incremental pace, fully mastering each step before moving on to the next. I believe the last sentence is one of the best examples of humanity's knowledge and a great representation of who we are as a species. "This is the Good, agreed?" We all have our thoughts and beliefs. And each of us thinks we are correct. But most of us know we might be completely wrong. So we look to those around us for validation. We make a statement that we think is true and if we are validated by others that thought can turn into a belief, and if enough people agree with that belief it can be turned into a fact. Whether it is true or not ideas like a flat or hollow earth have been taken as fact for different communities at different times despite all our current evidence to the contrary. We see truth not only through our own eyes but also through the eyes of our peers and communities. We seek their validation as proof our our truth instead of seeking the validation of the Good or the inherent truth that comes with enlightenment. My own life is a perfect example of how each of these steps is necessary to achieve the next. During my first attempt to earn my Bachelors degree i was a slave to my bodys urges, unable to master the body I couldn't achieve mastery of my mind. now that I am seven years sober I feel that I have mastered my bodily urges and am ready to work on mastering my mind and achieve my long held goal of earning my bachelors degree. While I look forward to mastering my soul as well I know that first I must control my mind by degrees. By taking action completed each assignment I will be mastering the skills for a class. Then by passing each class I will be preparing to master my degree. Then I will continue to take action and learn more and gain more mastery over my mind until I am ready to begin mastering my soul. Each step is necessary to complete before the next. Hopefully one day with lots of dedication and discipline I can become a true master of myself and help others on their journey to self mastery as well. Then given a long enough time line all of humanity can master themselves and we will live in a world where peace and prosperity reign.
    Patrick Stanley Memorial Scholarship
    Seven years ago I failed. I was 27, a raging alcoholic and was since I was 19. For 8 years I couldn't go a day without getting blackout drunk. The only days I didn't were two short lived rehab attempts. This lead me to drop out of college, quit my job, and contemplate suicide. Then one day my mom found me drunk as a skunk on the street just outside a cheap motel I had been kicked-out of. She was crying and praying to God for help. I had had enough. I couldn't keep doing this to my family, I had to change. Before going to rehab I called my Grandmother and told her how nervous I was. I thought I was going to fail again. She told me not to worry, third time's the charm. It was, I have not had any alcohol in seven years. After my rehabilitation I visited my Grandmother. She was very happy I quit drinking, especially since that is how her husband died, but she was disappointed that I wasn't going back to school. I explained that I wasn't ready to go back yet financially, mentally, or emotionally. She told me to keep working on myself but, made me promise that once I was ready I would go back and earn my bachelors degree. The years passed but I never forgot my promise. I started a new life, with a new outlook, and new job. I was working hard at my new job with Whole Foods rising quickly through the ranks. I started out in 2017 as a part time team member. Then by 2019 I was a assistant team lead. It took a few years but I finally felt stable so at the end of 2019 I applied to Old Dominion University and got in. I had worked very hard most of 2019 to get my team organized so that I would have time to go back to school. I was so excited to be on my way to fulfilling my promise. Then disaster struck. By March of 2020 all my work organizing my team crumbled around me. More than half my team stopped coming in. I was working 90+ hours a week just to keep my department running and had no time to work on school. I thought it was a passing phase and that by April things would get back to normal and I could catch up on my class work. Unfortunately things just kept getting worse by the end of April I knew I had to focus on work. I felt the added pressure of being an "essential worker" and thought it was my duty to make sure people were able to get their groceries. It was at that point I knew I had to drop out of school again because there was just too much going on and I didn't have the time. Another few years rolled by faster than I could blink. Then at the start of 2023 my Grandmother died. One of the last conversations I had with her she reminded me of my promise and I assured her I would get my degree. After a few months of trying and failing to find a schedule that would allow me to go back to school I quit my job. I took a significant pay cut for a job with fedex that has an excellent schedule. I am now enrolled in college for a third time and am confident that I will fulfill my promise, Just like my Grandma used to say the third time's a charm.