Former Nebraska football player and current Creighton accelerated nursing student Willie Miller is so grateful to be volunteering at the COVID-19 community vaccine clinic inside Creighton’s Rasmussen Center.
“I may have been a big fullback that bruised and smashed heads with linebackers, but I love people,” Miller said. “I just want to help people; I want to encourage people, especially with having had the experiences that I’ve had in life.”
Miller grew up in Bellevue, Nebraska, and played at Nebraska from 1996-2000. He was a member of the 1997 national title team at Nebraska, and helped guide the Huskers to their final Big 12 championship in the 1999-2000 season. But wear and tear on Miller’s body took a toll.
“When I got done and got my bachelor’s degree, I walked off the field with a prescription for painkillers,” Miller said. “I was on pain pills for about 20 years. I didn’t realize the impact it had on me overall.”
Miller also struggled with alcohol addiction. He eventually lost his job in pharmaceutical sales, and ended up living for two years at the Salvation Army. “I finally got the back surgery I needed about three years ago,” he said. “From there, I went to treatment so I could get off the pain pills. No more alcohol – sober.”
A two-time Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America nominee at Nebraska, Miller was eventually accepted into Creighton’s accelerated nursing program. His mom was a nurse, and he was impressed with the nurses he met while working in pharmaceutical sales.
“Being in those offices and seeing the nurses and that one-on-one interaction, that genuine care, that’s what I was all about,” Miller said.
As someone who’s lived in Omaha nearly all of his life, and has overcome so many struggles with the help of others, Miller said it’s important for him to give back to the community. And the clinic, where he served as an immunizer, offers a perfect opportunity.
“You get a chance to talk to people, be there for them, encourage them and comfort them,” Miller said. “It’s amazing. You just pass on love. This is what makes being a Creighton student so worth it.”