Editor’s Note — This is part of a weekly student conversation series highlighted for Women’s History Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series features students who are making impacts on campus and hope to maintain that momentum in future careers.
Monique Miller is a pre-law child youth, and family studies and communication studies double major with minors in ethnic studies, English and philosophy from Omaha, Nebraska. Through work on and off campus, Miller is striving to provide a voice for children.
What originally drew you to your major?
I have always been passionate about helping children, but I think one of the moments that completely changed my life was my initial interview with my current mentor, Dr. Patty Kuo, for FYRE (First Year Research Experience) my freshman year. I remember her asking me why I was passionate about doing research specifically in her lab and I voiced to her my difficult past and how I was determined to ensure that children could have a voice that I had not had when I was a child. When I was finished telling her this, I remember her asking me why I was not majoring in child, youth, and family studies, and after the interview, as I looked at the coursework and met with an adviser, everything locked into place. I knew from that point on that this path was for me.
Talk a bit about your internship with Foster Care Closet of Nebraska.
I am an intern at the Foster Care Closet, which is a nonprofit organization that restores dignity to children in foster care by providing them with brand-new outfits to own and a safe space to decompress and relax. I am currently learning all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a nonprofit and getting tips as I am wanting to open my own nonprofit in the future. I was initially interested in the Foster Care Closet as I have close ties to the foster care system and am wanting to work with children in foster care in the future.
You conduct research with Patty Kuo in the Center for Research on Child, Youth, Family and Schools. What is the subject of your research and why are you passionate about it?
I am currently doing UCARE with Dr. Kuo, studying attachment theory with parents in the children’s first 18 months in a study called GoPro at Home. I am passionate about my research with Dr. Kuo not only because of the fun and exciting experience of being in a lab, but also because of the knowledge I receive from conducting research. Doing research with Dr. Kuo has been a highlight of my undergraduate career and was the main deciding factor for my decision to obtain my Ph.D.
How has being a McNair Scholar impacted your time at Nebraska?
Being a McNair Scholar has provided me not only with an opportunity to have more experience in research but also gives me the proper steps to be the first in my family to obtain a Ph.D. Because of McNair, I feel more prepared and secure in my path to go to graduate school.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
There are a lot of things I would like to accomplish. I am aiming to obtain my Ph.D./J.D. in developmental psychology and family law, become a family lawyer and open my own nonprofit for children in abusive households, and be an advocate for those children who cannot speak for themselves.
What or who inspires you?
My older brother has always been my greatest inspiration. He was the first to go to college and has always been my greatest support, motivator and everything in between. I not only feel inspired to follow in his footsteps, but to also make him as proud as I can — and maybe one day I will be able to buy him a house!
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
Someone once told me that no matter what I did, and no matter how much money it gave me, if I was passionate about what I was doing, success will follow. This has been a motto for me ever since hearing this and I believe that it applies to everyone. Find what you’re passionate about and that impact and success will follow.