a href=”https://www.dailyegyptian.com/contactus.html”bDE Staff Reporter/b/abrspan class=”realsmall”bDaily Egyptian/b/span

By Gus Bode

SIUC’s first African American homecoming queen handles life and success with humbleness and compassion

Hazel Scott-Miller has been through a lot of firsts in her life.

She was one of the first black students to integrate Carbondale Community High School.

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She was one of the first African Americans to work at IGA in Carbondale.

She was the first in her family to graduate from college.

She was the first African American homecoming queen at SIUC.

But throughout her life she hasn’t been the type to ever put herself first.

Julia Mitchell, a friend of Scott-Miller and a graduate of SIUC, said Scott-Miller has a way of making everyone around her feel special. She said she is always friendly, happy and smiling.

“Whenever I see Hazel, I know I am going to be smiling and happy,” Mitchell said. “I know I am in the company of a very special person.”

Scott-Miller is originally from Sandusky, IL., but when she was 6 years old, her family moved to Carbondale.

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She was exposed to SIUC early in life and decided to attend to be close to home and go to school with her friends.

Scott-Miller enjoyed living close to the University because of her love for exercise and keeping fit.

“I look back and remember how much I cherished my time walking to SIU and then walking home,” Scott-Miller said. “I loved the exercise.”

Mitchell also remembers fondly her walks with Scott-Miller and their other two friends, Betty Butler and Delores Henry. The four girls went to high school and college together and all graduated in education.

“We would start at a meeting place and then pick up other friends along the way,” Mitchell said. “We talked the whole way on our daily morning walks.”

While at SIUC, Scott-Miller never formally rushed a sorority, but was a Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity sweetheart and was very involved with the organization. The rest of her time at SIUC was dedicated to her classes and her job at IGA as the first black cashier.

“She was a hard worker,” Mitchell said. “She was a diligent worker who could juggle different tasks.”

She also student taught at University High School. She had two African American women role models who influenced who she is today.

Her teachers, Charlotte Crimm and Thelma Walker, were two women she said carried themselves well and were always very professional.

“I try to exhibit that same degree of professionalism in my profession today,” Scott-Miller said.

During her senior year she was elected the very first African American homecoming queen at SIUC.

“At the time I did not look at it as being very special,” Scott-Miller said. “Now I look back and see the significance of it.”

Mitchell, her friend of 46 years, said she would never forget when her friend was named homecoming queen.

“When I saw her riding in the parade, smiling and waving, it was one of my proudest moments and memories of her,” Mitchell said.

And even though it was 1968, the tail end of the Civil Rights Movement, Scott-Miller said the people in the community and at the University were very supportive of her.

“It was exciting because a lot of whites supported and a lot of blacks supported me,” Scott-Miller said. “The people I worked with hung a sign in the window congratulating me.”

Scott-Miller said her time at SIUC helped her become an all-around type of person. She said her parents had always put a strong emphasis on learning and SIU helped her to continue with a strong education.

She graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in special education.

“SIU is a wonderful institution,” Scott-Miller said. “It was a foundation that prepared me to go out into the world.”

Her younger brother, Kenneth Scott, also attended SIUC and said she is an inspiration to him.

“She helped to encourage me to not just go to college, but to actually graduate from college,” Scott said.

Scott, who graduated in 1977 with a degree in community health management, now works in Chicago as a sales integrator with SBC, formerly Ameritech.

He said they were always close because they were left in the house together when their older siblings left home.

“I admired her ability to cope with any type of situation,” Scott said. “She had such a desire to be the best person she could be.”

After graduating from SIUC, she went on to receive her masters in educational psychology at Wayne State University in Michigan. She worked on post-graduate work at the University of Tennessee and received her mid-management certification at the University of Texas in Arlington.

Today she works for the Dallas independent school district to help provide services for students in alternative school settings. She has been working at her current job since 1981 and believes that it is important for students to get an education.

She works with administrators, teachers and counselors to make sure special education students are having their academic needs met.

“I basically believe in getting an education,” Scott-Miller said. “Even if people go into entertainment or sports, it is very important that they have an education to fall back on.”

She also still loves exercise and staying fit. She teaches aerobics through the school system’s wellness program as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Health is very important,” Scott-Miller said. “I cannot remember a time when I didn’t exercise. It has always been a part of my life.”

She is divorced and has two sons and two granddaughters. She still loves her job and spending time with the people she loves. She still has fond memories of bowling at the SIUC Student Center and walking by the Old Main building as she walked across campus.

And although she had so many firsts, she is the last person to turn away a friend or hold back a smile.

“You never know if that smile you give will help someone get through the day,” Scott-Miller said.

And to the people around her, she is that same friendly, loving person she was back growing up in Carbondale.

“She is still true, still beautiful and still a wonderful person,” Scott said.

Reporter Kristina Dailing can be reached at [email protected]

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