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“I would like to eventually teach at the college level. I want to show kids, young adults, and even adults, that writing isn’t a scary thing. I believe everyone has a voice. I want able to find mine here and I was to help people find it. It’s such a beautiful thing when someone is excited to find the way they want to communicate.”
DeAndra Miller, junior, English education major

University Communications

Miller’s work, time showcased at national conference

MINOT, N.D. – There won’t be much downtime at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention for Minot State University’s DeAndra Miller.

Miller, a junior English education major, was honored with presenting two different academic and creative works at the March convention set for Cincinnati, Ohio. And, on top of presenting, she is a part of the planning committee as a student advisor.

“It’s exciting to get to get to go. I am a part of the planning committee and visited in the fall to begin to plan the convention,” she said. “I’m an introvert, so I don’t know what to expect. The one piece, a creative nonfiction piece, I just read it. The poems, I will present with a panel. I’m nervous about that. There will be questions from students and faculty, over 1,000 attendees and 700 presenters, so there is the potential to have a large audience.”

While Miller is a self-described introvert, her resume at Minot State says otherwise. She has been a student advisor of Sigma Tau Delta, writer and sports editor of the Red & Green, a member of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, and president of MSU’s Sigma Tau Delta, Phi Chapter.

To prepare for the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention, she has practiced as various events at Minot State and in the Minot community.

“The last time I presented in front of a crowd was at NOTSTOCK,” she said. “I won second place in poetry and Dr. (Ashley) Bowen convince me to read in the community at the Minot Story Hour (at the Minot Public Library). I am getting over my nerves getting up in front of groups.”

Both of Miller’s selections in the convention have deep meaning to her. Her poetry is titled “A Lifetime of Races.”

“It’s autobiographical,” she said. “It is written from a perspective of things happen to me and my family, you mind your own business and then race smacks you in the face and you’re not ready for it. Some of it are things that happened to me as a kid growing up and some, unfortunately, are things that have happened here. It comes from a raw place.”

She credits Ashley Bowen, assistant professor of English, and Nicole Thom-Arens, assistant professor of communication arts, on helping her refine her work and finding her voice.

“Dr. Bowen is a master of poetry. He’s amazing, but very humble about it,” she said. “I tell him over and over he’s the reason I’ve been able to do this. He directs me to different poets and works with me to get a sense of form and function. I’ve worked closely with him and Nicole as a secondary reader. They have both helped me a lot.”

Her creative nonfiction piece, titled, “Too Black,” started as a paper assignment in a class at her former college, Chadron State (Neb.).

“It was as silly, nonsensical topic, tell your life story through your hair,” she said. “But once I started writing, it really made sense. As a black woman, it does mean a lot. In high school, it was natural, curly and I was teased a lot about it. Not from other races, but from my own. I was teased so much that I begged my mom, please let me relax it. She let me make my own decision.

“But the thing that I was doing to be accepted was damaging me. I literally cut it all off which was another experience. Oh, now it’s so short, I look like a boy. It was very difficult to find my own identity. You don’t have to bend to society because it might break you.”

The paper turned into something much larger for Miller as she spent time refining it and “pruning it,” as she recalls.

“It is a very different piece now,” she said. “It’s more showing and not telling. It’s been a process to get to here.”

That also sums up Miller’s academic career on her way to Minot State.

She began her academic career at Chadron State, moving from her home state of Florida. She, along with her husband, were looking for schools that were smaller, and narrowed it down to Chadron and Minot. After originally choosing elsewhere, fate moved them to Minot.

“We were living on campus and the school decided to tear down the housing we were in. We didn’t want to be on the street, so we visited Minot during Spring Break,” Miller said. “Originally, my husband was looking to play football (at MSU) and, while that didn’t work out, we ended up staying.”

That move has paid off for Miller as she has been able to find her voice in the MSU English department.

“I would like to eventually teach at the college level. I want to show kids, young adults, and even adults, that writing isn’t a scary thing. I believe everyone has a voice. I want able to find mine here and I was to help people find it. It’s such a beautiful thing when someone is excited to find the way they want to communicate.”

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Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 03/02/18



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