2008-2009 Harvard Kennedy School
Roger Dean Huffstetler Jr.

As the first in my family to go to college, I am keenly aware that education is the great equalizer in our society. I am living proof. And the person who is most responsible for my receiving a college degree is not even related to me. His name is Zell Miller. He is responsible for creating Georgia’s HOPE scholarship, which allows any student to attend any state school tuition-free.

I first met then-Governor Zell Miller while I was a high school junior in Newnan, Georgia. I clearly remembering asking him: “Why is education so important to you?” “Well, my mother worked hard so I could get an education, and it made all the difference,” was his response.

The next time I saw Zell Miller, he was the junior Senator from Georgia in our Nation’s Capitol. I reminded him of his visit to Newnan High School from years earlier, and I spoke to him about how important his HOPE scholarship had been for my family. I also asked him if I could intern in his office in Washington, DC, and he kindly agreed.

To date, there have been more than 850,000 HOPE scholars, and an additional $2.7 billion has been put into the public education system in Georgia. When people ask me why I believe in public service, I tell them that one person can make a difference. Zell Miller is living proof.

MBA candidate, Harvard Business School

BS, University of West Georgia, HOPE Scholar, commencement speaker

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