Southern Adventist University student Erik Lorenz Miller passed away on August 30 at the age of 31. At the time, he was a junior studying computer science.
According to Miller’s obituary, he was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Kent and Cynthia Miller, but grew up in Marietta where he graduated from Pope High School. After leaving secondary school, he served in the U.S. Marines.
Miller was a firm believer in Jesus Christ and had a desire to serve God, according to his mother Cynthia Miller. Because of that, he made the decision to get baptized at the Marietta Seventh-day Adventist Church on April 27, 2019. That decision eventually led him to Southern.
“After the initial tour of the school, he was so excited about attending [Southern],” Cynthia Miller said in an interview with the Accent. “[He] knew it was a good fit for his beliefs and the goals he had set.”
Cynthia Miller said that Miller told her his first year at Southern was the best year of his life. He enjoyed classes and spending time with his friends, and the town of Collegedale was what he was seeking for his future.
One of the friends he met was senior nursing major Soko Paongo. Paongo said she met Miller on a hiking trip with a mutual friend.
“[He] was so outgoing and [loved] trying new things,” Paongo said. “I could always count on him to be my adventure buddy.”
Cynthia Miller described her son as funny, thoughtful and creative.
“At an early age, he loved to entertain and engage with people,” she said. “He dubbed his entertainment routine, ‘The Erik Miller Show,’ which was inspired by his favorite comedian, Jay Leno.”
According to his obituary, he was known at local restaurants and stores in Smyrna, Georgia, because of this.
Cynthia Miller said Miller had a desire to make people happy and comfortable.
Originally, Miller started as a pre-dentistry student, but he soon switched his major to computer science after taking a computer class that piqued his interest. Ultimately, this led to his recent job as an IT intern at McKee Foods Corporation in Collegedale. His mother said he “waited with baited breath” because he knew if he got the job, it would help him grow in knowledge and skill.
“Once he began, he told me he loved it,” she said. “And this was going to be his forever job.”
Cynthia Miller said that she was blessed and honored to have been his mother.
“I miss him so deeply and terribly,” she said. “There are no words to describe the loss of your child.”
Though Miller passed before he could fulfill his dreams, Cynthia Miller leans on the comfort of knowing that he had faith in Jesus Christ and that she may be able to meet him again.
In closing, she shared one of Miller’s favorite Bible verses from Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Miller’s family held a funeral service for his life at Schubert Funeral Home in Wartburg, Tennessee on September 4. Friends and families paid their respects, including Southern President Ken Shaw.
Counseling is available to Southern students through Counseling Services or the Office of Ministry and Missions.