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Erica Miller Wins C-Ring Award

Date: May 21, 2002
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photo By: Dottie Stover
Archive: Profiles

The winner of the 2002 C-Ring Award at the University of Cincinnati is a 22-year-old who double majors in English and African American studies and says she likes to do everything, be everything and help everybody. The guiding principle she lives by is "to whom much is given, much is required."

Erica Miller

Erica Miller, a resident adviser for Siddall Hall last year and Sawyer Hall this year, is the winner of the university's top award for a graduating female senior. The award was announced at a banquet Saturday, May 18, at the Vernon Manor Hotel.

With a 3.84 GPA, Miller says her college education at UC has helped her to grow in ways she could not have predicted when she got here four years ago. She entered UC as a finance major but decided by the summer of her freshmen year that she should switch to something she loves: literature. After completing an internship in which she has observed the classes of teacher Doris Riddle at Norwood High School and finishing a summer program for minority scholars at Ohio State University, Miller also has decided to listen to her heart some more - rather than her wallet - and become a junior high school teacher.

"I had always wanted to teach, but what kept me away from it was the money. I always loved school," says Miller, a 1998 graduate and valedictorian of Chaney High School in Youngstown. Finally, she realized that loving her job was more important than money. So, two weeks after she receives her UC bachelor's degree, she will begin master's studies at OSU in English education.

"Her decision to earn a degree in education and to reach secondary school represents her own growth and understanding of how best to continue her self-development and service to her community," says Arlene Elder, UC professor of English.

One of her biggest accomplishments as an undergraduate student at UC has been serving as president of Shades of You, a group sponsored by the Women's Center to bring women of different races together. The group has had its struggles from the beginning when it was founded in 1999. Under her leadership this year, the program has increased its membership, although Miller admits she would still love to have a greater diversity of women of color become involved in the group.

Also while at UC, Miller has been a Darwin Turner Scholar and a Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient, a tutor at the Corryville Resource Center and a mentor to students at Hughes High School and at UC. She has assisted students with time management issues and study skills as well as manned study table sessions in the Accelerating Towards Learning and Academic Success Program at UC.

Over spring break, Miller got her first taste of overseas travel by participating in the study abroad program in Brazil, with the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

"I really liked eating the food. It was so good," says Miller. "I was really struck by the poverty that existed in the favelas, the slums/shantytowns of Brazil. It was really fascinating to walk through them and see all of the people of different colors living there.

"I think that poverty there is very different from poverty here. When you come to the States you see how fortunate we are here."

Her other UC activities include McMicken English Society, president; numerous offices with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Mortar Board; Cincinnati Women in Spirit and Excellence Together (CWEST); secretary of the National Panhellenic Council; Greek Peer Advocate; and membership in the Racial Awareness Program.

Once she finishes the master's program at OSU in spring 2003, her goals will not be entirely met. Not satisfied with doing less, she hopes to travel to improve her Spanish-speaking skills. She keeps a journal to track her objectives. In addition to teaching, there are many other plans she has outlined for herself - opening a book store, organizing a girls' book club, starting up a teen magazine designed for young black females, becoming a school principal. She reasons: "I believe it is my duty to empower as many young women as possible, just as I've been empowered, particularly over these past four years."

Sums up Professor Elder: "Erica Miller strikes me as exactly the kind of student and young woman the C-Ring was designed to honor."

Click here to read about other UC graduates.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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