'That Someone Believes in Me'

Scholarship support motivates student to pursue big academic and career goals

Donors supported student scholarships more than any other area during Campaign Montana. With over $97 million contributed to the UM Foundation, UM provided more than 14,000 students with privately funded scholarships over the campaign’s seven years.

This support is inspiring students like Millie Espeseth, a junior from Kalispell, Montana, who is double majoring in communicative sciences and disorders and psychology. The Davidson Honors College student shares how private support is helping her achieve her goal to make a positive impact as a disability lawyer.

Millie Espeseth

Why is scholarship support meaningful to you and your family?

Scholarship support is a big reason why I was able to attend college. I grew up in a middle-class family, but both of my brothers were diagnosed with autism when they were two years old. My family spent a lot of resources that we would have saved for college to ensure my brothers had the treatments and medication they needed to be successful and happy.

I don’t regret that, but it does mean that I have to pay for my own college, so I worked pretty hard to make sure I would have scholarships and funding that would help me get into college and graduate without a lot of debt.

I also didn’t want to have to work four jobs at once to get myself through college. I wanted to focus on my personal and professional growth by joining communities and groups at UM. Scholarship support has allowed me to be more involved on campus.

What inspired your plans to practice disability law?

My brothers are very bright, passionate people, but they need a little extra help developing their interests. I want to attend law school and become a disability lawyer so I can ensure people like my brothers and their families have access to support. I am interested in campaigning for positive changes in our legal system to help people with disabilities and special needs be successful in whatever they want to do. 

How is private support helping you accomplish your academic and professional goals?

Everyone goes through times when they’re not sure what they want to do, if they’re good enough or if they’re going in the right direction. Scholarship support shows me that someone believes in me, someone thinks I can do this, and it motivates me to continue to grow, push myself, try new things and develop new skills. That’s something I might not have had if I wasn’t a part of the scholarship community, and I’m so grateful.