Former Student: Julie Shiller
Julie Shiller does not believe in being too comfortable. In fact, she thinks one of the most valuable things she learned at Hillyer is the importance of being uncomfortable in order to really learn.
“You have to challenge yourself,” Shiller says. “You have to get outside the classroom and be open to other perspectives, cultures, and points of view.”
Shiller, who graduated from Hillyer in 2005 and the University of Hartford in 2007, decided to major in sociology, describing it as the subject that allowed her to see the world through a different lens. “Sociology helps expose the important issues in society,” she says. “I’m fascinated by the reasons certain people are marginalized, why some people have power and others don’t.”
In order to challenge herself, Shiller decided to study at the University of Cape Town in South Africa during the spring semester of her third year. “I was intrigued by South Africa’s history and by its racial, ethnic, and gender issues,” she says. In addition to studying, Shiller did volunteer work at a children’s home near Cape Town.
After graduation, Shiller joined AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. As a member of Americorp, whe helped rebuild homes after Hurrican Katrina, helped victims of wildfires in Florida, and cleaned out houses in the Midwest that were ravaged by floods. After serving 10 months with Americorp, she moved to Denver to work as a counselor in a group home and begin studying for a graduate degree.
In 2009 Shiller received Hillyer College's Outstanding Young Alumna Award. Speaking at the award ceremony on campus, she described her struggle to graduate from high school. Hillyer's nurturing environment helped her in the classroom. It was also at Hillyer that she discovered her passion for community service, social justice, and activism.