Alumni Spotlight: Auburn Native Molly Miller-Beard – First Female to Earn an A in Biochemistry, President of a Sorority and Registered Medical Technologist
For many Auburn University graduates, returning to the Loveliest Village on the Plains signifies coming home. For College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) alumna and Auburn native Molly Miller-Beard, returning home after decades away felt almost as if she never left.
Miller-Beard left Auburn upon her graduation in 1960, and did not move back until 2017 when she and husband Allen Beard – also an Auburn native – decided it was time to finally return home.
Miller-Beard was born and raised in Auburn. Her mother lived here her whole life, her grandmother too, and her youngest brother and his wife still do. This lasting connection to a town and a school brought Miller-Beard relationships lasting well beyond a graduation date.
“I started college when it was API and graduated from Auburn University,” Miller-Beard said.
Miller-Beard graduated from COSAM with a degree in the School of Chemistry. At the time, the university followed a quarter-system, tuition was $55 per quarter, and enrollment was roughly 8,000 students each year, she said.
“Women were required to wear skirts on campus and they were not short. If you lived in the dorm, you had to sign out when you left and in when you returned. Girls had to be in at 7 p.m. on weeknights. Boys were allowed only in the first floor parlor,” Miller-Beard said.
While at Auburn, Miller-Beard served as the president of her sorority Delta Delta Delta, and focused her studies on the medical technology path, taking an array of classes and laboratories. Always having an affinity for science, math, and chemistry, she enjoyed every minute of her time learning the field.
“I was told that I was the first girl to make an A in biochemistry – probably was one of the first girls to take it,” Miller-Beard said.
After graduation, Miller-Beard married Ed Miller – also an Auburn graduate – and the two left The Plains for Greensboro, North Carolina. There, Miller-Beard trained at Moses Cone Hospital, took the National Registry EMT exam, and officially became a registered medical technologist.
As years passed, the couple welcomed two sons and moved a total of 18 times.
In 1990, Ed Miller lost his battle with a rare T-cell lymphoma. Miller-Beard was 52 years old then, and she knew that it was time to get back into her career.
“Ed had done a great job of supporting his family until then – now I was on my own. Med tech had changed a lot, plus I wanted something that would allow me the freedom to be away when I wanted to. I had gotten my real estate license so I began a career in that field. I successfully sold real estate for 25 plus years,” Miller-Beard said.
In the late 1990s, Miller-Beard’s mother reconnected her with an old friend – Allen Beard, son of former Auburn athletic director Jeff Beard.
“Our parents were friends. Allen’s dad and my dad started the first A&P food store in Auburn. Allen and I attended Lee County High School, which later became Auburn High. It was in the building that still exists on Samford Avenue,” Miller-Beard said.
The two were always good friends, but never dated. After reuniting years later, they married in 1998 and Allen joined his wife at her home in High Point, North Carolina.
Miller-Beard says one of their greatest endeavors was deciding to downsize and move back to Auburn in June 2017. Residing about six miles away from the university’s campus, the two greatly enjoy their close proximity and ability to attend Auburn events and COSAM tailgates, and the opportunity spend time with the old and new friends they have made along the way.
“The Auburn Family has always been special. Auburn has a feeling that is so great,” Miller-Beard said.