(PHOTO: Christy Jenkins Photography)
Executive Director and co-founder of the Smashing Walnuts Foundation Ellyn Miller will deliver Shenandoah University’s 2014 Commencement address on May 10.
Ms. Miller’s daughter, Gabriella Miller ‘13, the inspiration for the creation of the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, was a national childhood cancer advocate who lost her year-long battle with brain cancer on October 26, 2013, just two weeks after receiving her honorary degree from Shenandoah University. The mission of the Smashing Walnuts Foundation is to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and funding for pediatric brain cancer research.
Due to her grace and determination under dire circumstances, Miller is regularly asked to speak about the need for pediatric brain cancer funding. She successfully lobbied Congress to pass The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act to increase pediatric disease funding at the National Institutes of Health by $126 million. The act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on April 3, 2014.
“Ellyn Miller should be a true inspiration to us all. In the face of such a profound loss, she remains committed to helping other children and their families,” said President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. “We were honored to welcome the Miller family into our Shenandoah family and our hearts and grateful we were able to be a part of fulfilling Gabriella’s wish to graduate from college.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Ill., Ellyn Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently resides in Leesburg, Va., with her husband, Mark and son, Jake.
Shenandoah University’s May Commencement Ceremony is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, 2014, on the field behind the Brandt Student Center, located on the main campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.