Robin M. Eller, Class of 2000, Outstanding Alumni Award Winner for 2005
Robin Eller made Northeast State Community College the cornerstone to build her education and career. Five years after graduating summa cum laude, Eller was chosen from among a field of nominees to receive the Outstanding Alumna Award for 2005.
“I am humbled by the honor they have given me, especially that someone thought enough of me to put me in that category,” said Eller upon receiving the award.
Eller served as director of the Hallie Turner Private School in Columbus, Ga., where she helped others secure their futures through education. She said the school operates a self-paced, non-traditional high school serving students over age 16 seeking to finish high school regardless of previous academic work.
Raised in Bristol, Tennessee, Eller received her Associate of Science degree in 2000. As a student, she served as a peer tutor and was active in several extracurricular organizations.
“Northeast State afforded me the opportunity to do what I intended to do,” Eller said. “I realized I could succeed, but also realized I could share what I learned with other people.”
When her husband’s military career took their family to Fort Benning, Georgia, Eller enrolled at Auburn University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 2001.
Eller said she had no intention of majoring in mathematics when she enrolled at Northeast State, but the encouragement of instructors changed her mind and her future.
“They saw us as students, but they also took an interest in you as a person,” she said. “The day I started classes at Northeast State got me to that point.”
Although she initially applied for a teaching position at Turner, the school’s owner noticed something more about Eller during her interview and offered her the director’s job. Eller spent her days as a student adviser, managing the school’s operations, and simply offering encouragement.
“I worked with each one of the students on a daily basis in whatever capacity was necessary,” she said. “In this aspect, our program was not so unlike that of Northeast State's, but at the high school level.”
Eller was actively involved with the school’s annual accreditation process and was instrumental in securing the school’s eligibility for the state’s HOPE Scholarship program. She also volunteered her time with the Columbus city school system serving in the PTA, as a room parent, reading to students, and assisting with in-school and out-of-school activities.
Eller was unable to attend the 2005 Honors Convocation since her husband and fellow Northeast State alumnus Monty Eller, Class of 2000, had only two weeks remaining before leaving Robin and their four children (Tony, Matt, Andy, and Alyx) for a yearlong deployment to Iraq with his National Guard unit. Her sister Cindy accepted the award on her behalf.
In 2011, the Ellers made a move to Highgate, Vermont, where Monty took a position with the National Guard. Their first grandchild, Trystan, was born during the year, as well.
“I'm really excited about that,” Robin said. “He is here in Vermont, too, which is wonderful!”