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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Meet the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award winner

Taylor Hill-Miles received the scholarship award for her dedication to community service

Taylor Hill-Miles, this year’s winner of the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award, gives a keynote speech at Citizens Field on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She talked about the importance of demanding justice for the Black community.
Taylor Hill-Miles, this year’s winner of the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award, gives a keynote speech at Citizens Field on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She talked about the importance of demanding justice for the Black community.

Taylor Hill-Miles learned her empathy and love for community service from her grandmother at a young age. 

“From there, I developed just a love and passion for helping others,” Hill-Miles said. 

The 17-year-old Eastside High School senior has volunteered more than 500 hours at Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, GRACE Marketplace and the Farm Share — all while being the captain of her cross country and soccer teams and student body president with a 4.7 GPA. 

Hill-Miles also received this year’s Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award, given annually to an Alachua County high school senior who exemplifies outstanding achievement and leadership. She delivered a keynote speech when she accepted the scholarship at Citizens Field on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

In her speech, she highlighted the importance of racial equality and called on the audience to consider the impact of police brutality on the Black community.

“Now is the time to choose to love one another instead of hating and fighting against each other, because King said that hate cannot drive out hate,” Hill-Miles said. “Only love can do that.”

Hill-Miles cares deeply for her community and feels a responsibility to help those in need. She saw people in her community living paycheck to paycheck and how that affected them, she said. 

“I try to help others who are in similar situations so they don’t have to go through that,” Hill-Miles said. 

Hill-Miles said she is interested in biomedical engineering and would love to work for a humanitarian aid organization to create low-cost, high-quality technology for developing countries. 

Some of the colleges she applied to include UF, University of South Florida, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Hill-Miles said everything she’s accomplished could not have been done without the support of her parents, teachers and friends. 

Janice Early, Hill-Miles’ mom, describes her daughter as unique, happy and self-driven. As a little girl, Hill-Miles set high expectations for herself and that hasn’t changed. In high school, Early said she noticed Hill-Miles developed a strong sense of independence. Now, Hill-Miles often tackles projects without telling her mom first. 

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“I find out about a lot of things she’s doing after the fact,” Early said, chuckling.

Gabrielle Gonzalez, Hill-Miles’ best friend, said she is an amazing friend and student. 

Gonzalez loves Hill-Miles’ positive attitude and said Hill-Miles motivates her to be a better person. 

On her soccer team, Hill-Miles exemplifies leadership by setting an example for her teammates, said Terrie Ellerbe, dean of Eastside High School and the head coach of the girls soccer team. She considers Hill-Miles a role model for the freshmen and sophomores.

“Her dedication to the sport just transcends to others, which is just impeccable to me,” Ellerbe said, adding that Hill-Miles gained the respect and admiration of her peers as the student body president. 

She even organized homecoming and united the entire student body to create a “flawless masterpiece,” Ellerbe said. 

To Ellerbe, Hill-Miles has a bright future ahead of her and will leave an impact on society when she graduates high school.

“We will hear about her again,” Ellerbe said. “We definitely will.”

Contact Daniella Sevares at dsevares@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @DaniellaSevares.

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Daniella Sevares

Daniella Sevares is a third-year student and an education reporter for the Metro team. She’s from Miami, and she loves going to the beach when she’s not writing.


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