#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Nicole Eckland, 30, of LaCrosse, WI

Nicole Eckland She is studying to be an elementary school teacher after her son’s father took his own life in 2001 following a long battle with mental illness. Working through her grief, Nicole realized that life is precious and should be valued, and that doing “good” in life turns the negative into a positive.

For Nicole that good was setting the goal for herself of becoming an elementary school teacher – and a role model for her son. At age 29, she went back to school and is currently enrolled at Viterbo University, where she has maintained a 3.86 grade average. A full-time student, and full-time mom of a six-year-old son, Nicole works at the University and tutors at her son’s school. As a teacher Nicole hopes to convey to her students tolerance of disabilities and the differences in students.

Nicole maintains that life is one hundred percent choices. “I always thought I could never go back to school. I never thought I would get a 4.0 GPA in a semester. I never thought I could be a single mom and live through the death of his father,” she said. “But then I realized that these things are all choices and all I had to do is decide to do it.”

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