Blackburn College lit a fire in me that burns brightly still today.

Brianna Milich

Blackburn student, Brianna Milich, posing for a picture near Hudson Hall.

Brianna shares how the support she received at Blackburn helped realize her dream.

I am really passionate about the use of a growth mindset rather than a fixed one. My freshman year, we were handed magnets with this very word (“yet”) from my professor, Della Montgomery. It helps dispel negativity in the face of adversities. In life, we are faced with challenges and times in which we don’t always succeed or excel. Instead of feeling negatively about these times, I focus on growth and know it is merely “yet.” I know failing is learning instead of losing, and that keeping a positive attitude in my effort and attitude is so important. This mindset drives me every day and it is a mindset I encourage in my teaching as well. I hadn’t realized it growing up, but Blackburn College was always relevant to me. I had two uncles, an aunt, and a handful of family friends who had attended. When my family members told me of their college experiences and all the memories they made, it had always been about Blackburn.

One huge appeal of Blackburn was the Work Program.

As someone who worked two jobs in high school, I was familiar with work and driven tokeep working while pursuing my education. My resident assistant really helped me branch out, join clubs, and meet other people. I was so inspired by him and how welcoming he was, I myself became a RA in Stoddard Hall my second semester freshman year, which is where I have worked ever since.


I’d always dreamed of being able to afford to go to a four-year college, and one away from home. Blackburn helped me do this.

Brianna Milich

Blackburn College lit a fire in me that burns brightly still today. I became infatuated with being involved on campus. My freshman RA had founded Blackburn’s CKI, a service and volunteering organization, his freshman year. I joined under his guidance and volunteered for many organizations and aided in many service projects. I became CKI’s secretary, treasurer, and their fundraising committee chair, and was able to raise hundreds of dollars for the WASH campaign. It was a fulfilling commitment, but I was left wanting to be involved in more. I ran and became a Student Senate representative, and quickly it became my whole life. Students have such a big voice on campus, and I
loved being able to represent their voices and make impactful changes. I was Student Senate President my sophomore year, President my junior year, and a Senate At-Large representative for senior year. I’ve also sung in Blackburn’s choir and Blackburn Voices, and have been an active participant in Stoddard’s house council. Thanks to the support of faculty and staff, I am also fundraising to restore Stoddard’s historic piano. After college, I plan to teach at a school of need in Illinois as an elementary teacher, ideally in the Fairview Heights area. My fiance’ and I are high school sweethearts and will be getting married in the Washington, IL area in 2023.

I am a dedicated cat mom to my 7-month-old kitten Cheddar, who lives with me in Stoddard Hall as an ESA. Cheddar was adopted from the shelter in town, where I’ve been fortunate enough to volunteer. My cat has affectionately been dubbed by many as the “King of Stoddard.” I am a plant lover and have many scattered throughout my dorm room, and I throw an RA event every year so everyone can have a plant. I also love music, sewing, crafting, watching documentaries, and listening to podcasts.

I’d always dreamed of being able to afford to go to a four-year college, and one away from home. Blackburn helped me do this. This scholarship means that taking the plunge to attend college was worth the uncertainty. For me, it really feels like my dedication and hard work to Blackburn is really paying off. I have always had the support of my friends and family, but this scholarship makes me feel so thankful and grateful to have even more supporters who believe in me. It really means the absolute world to me and I am so very appreciative of it.

In 2022, Brianna was recognized as a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

“When the Education department considers a model student, Brianna is the first that comes to mind,” Dr. Michelle Stacy, Professor of Education at Blackburn, explained. “She is dedicated to improving society through her commitment to education and teaching future generations. In addition, Brianna is very active in the Student Senate, focusing on the student voice and student needs across campus. She advocates for students, both on and off-campus, by working with administration, faculty, and staff to improve the lives of students. She is a true leader on campus.”

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Students are recognized for demonstrating strong leadership aptitude, exhibiting a desire to make a difference in the world through civic engagement, and displaying the characteristics of Abraham Lincoln that made him someone who inspired and transformed the world for generations. Read more.