Spring Hill native receives Phil Royal Scholarship

Nature Coast Tech Alum and Spring Hill native, Cristian Miller, 20, was bestowed a high honor on February 22. He was the recipient of the first Key Center Phil Royal Law Enforcement Academy Community Service Scholarship to Withlacoochee Technical College. The Key Center serves individuals with developmental disabilities and Phil Royal served on the Board of Directors for 19 years.

Phil Royal, a former Citrus County Sheriff’s Deputy passed away in 2016 during his bid for Citrus County Sheriff. He was participating in a Key Training Center fundraiser run, when he suffered a seizure. Royal was known for his philanthropy in the community and his dedication to law enforcement.

Royal attended Withlacoochee Technical College’s Law Enforcement Academy and later served as the program’s director for 5 years. After graduating from the Academy, he joined the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in 1990 and served in a number of capacities including Patrol Deputy, School Resource Officer, SWAT-Medic, Underwater Recovery Team Commander, SCUBA Diving Instructor, Crime Scene Technician, Sergeant and Lieutenant. In 2014, Royal retired as a Captain at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.

The scholarship is a way to remember the contributions Phil Royal made to the community.

“I'm humbled to receive this scholarship. This scholarship is all about the unbelievable legacy Captain Royal left behind, and I am honored to help uphold that legacy,” said Miller.

Royal’s widow April and nine month old daughter attended the ceremony as well as Miller’s parents.

“The majority of my family is in law enforcement (including my father, two uncles, and an aunt). Law enforcement is truly a righteous path,” explained Miller.

Entering the 6 month law enforcement training program, Miller already has much experience under his belt. He worked for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office after graduating from NCT where he completed their 4 year criminal justice class. He holds a wide range of training certificates. While employed by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, he was transferred from Patrol to the specialty unit Traffic division where he deployed specialized traffic control devices and investigated traffic collisions. While working for HCSO, he was an Adviser with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 409 where he instructed youth in numerous law enforcement topics.

Miller looks forward to taking the next step in his education with the help of the $4000 scholarship.

“I have the privilege to attend the Withlacoochee Technical College law enforcement academy. I couldn't ask for a better class to be a part of, and every single instructor is extremely knowledgeable,” said Miller.

photography submitted