Rarely does a person get what they truly deserve. But in the case of Briggs Miller, a 2018 graduate from Grantsville High School, it did happen.
Near the beginning of last school year, Miller read in his school’s scholarship newsletter about a scholarship offered by the Comcast Foundation. This yearly, nationwide award is given to select high school seniors based on their leadership experience, community service and academics.
Miller, 18, decided he had nothing to lose.
“I was never confident at the beginning of applying for scholarships,” Miller said. “But it’s always a smart thing to just try. There’s no reason not to apply.”
Based on the scholarship’s title alone — the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship — Miller in fact had every reason to apply. Leadership and achievement have long been a part of his life.
Miller, son of Matt and Amy Miller, grew up in Grantsville and attended Willow Elementary and Grantsville Junior High School. When he went to high school, he immediately got involved in leadership positions.
“I was the only person in Grantsville who did four years of student government,” he said. “I loved serving and helping out the school.”
He was a student body officer his freshman and sophomore years. Then his junior year he was the historian, and his senior year he served as student body vice president.
But student government is not the extent of his leadership experience. He was also active on the debate team, where he served as a mentor to other students, and in the band, where he was section leader for the saxophones.
Along with leadership came community service.
“We’ve done lots of projects through student council,” Miller said. “We’ve done sock drives for the veterans’ home, and I can’t even tell you how many food drives we’ve organized. I spent a lot of time in high school helping the community and organizing events.”
In addition to all his school-sponsored service, Miller also worked together with his brother to create and run a Facebook support group called “LGBT & Allies Support Group of Tooele County.” They simply saw a need in the community and stepped up to try to fill it.
So when it came time to write the two essays required for the scholarship application — one on leadership and one on service — Miller had plenty of material. And with a 3.94 GPA and a score of 27 on the ACT, he had the academic requirement covered as well.
In January, Miller received word that he had been selected as one of 34 $1,000 scholarship recipients in the state of Utah.
The award ceremony was scheduled to take place in June. In the meantime, Miller was given the option to write another essay and submit more experiences and references for a chance to win additional scholarship money.
“They tell everyone that they won the minimum scholarship of $1,000,” Miller explained, “and then they surprise the three people who win the bigger scholarships at the actual event.”
On June 20, he and his mother arrived at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City for what they assumed would be a guided tour and a short award ceremony. Instead they were treated to a three-course meal in the rotunda and speeches by Holly Menino, anchor/reporter at KUTV 2 News, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.
“We didn’t expect it to be as large as it was when we got there,” Miller said. “It was kind of a big thing. It was a little overwhelming, to be honest.”
But the surprises didn’t stop there. When the awards were handed out, Miller learned he was one of three students chosen to receive additional scholarship money. His scholarship now totaled $5,000.
“It was exciting,” he said. “It kind of makes me feel good knowing that I can compete statewide, and that kind of gives me more of a confidence boost about what I’m capable of.”
Miller will put the scholarship to good use, along with the renewable Regents’ Scholarship he qualified for: He will attend the University of Utah this fall.
“I like that the University of Utah is a PAC 12 school, so they have all these research opportunities,” he said. “And it’s so close to home, that’s what really made the decision for me. It’s somewhere I can take the bus and still get a quality education.”
Because of the AP classes he took in high school, he has already earned a semester and a half of college credit.
“My plan is to become a biology major, and from there, I’d like to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon,” he said.
For now, Miller is working hard to earn his advanced EMT certification.
“I’d like to work at the University of Utah hospital once I get my certification, because I need the money and I need the experience, so they just kind of go hand in hand,” he said.
With all of his big academic plans, Miller hasn’t abandoned the character traits that got him here — his love of getting involved and his genuine desire to help others. He’s looking forward to joining service groups in college and making a difference where he can.
He is also quick to share his gratitude.
“I’d like to thank my debate coach and AP teacher, Mr. Brett Rydalch,” Miller said. “He was one of my biggest supporters through high school. He actually wrote my letter of recommendation for this scholarship. And I’m just really thankful for the Comcast foundation and what they were able to do for me.”
Clearly, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving young man.