Dr. Niya Miller is one of Tuskegee’s Department of English’s newest professors. She is loved by the majority of her students, and they cannot get enough of her. Although she has only been a part of the department for a little over a year, she has already made her mark. As the communication program continues to grow, students hope to see more faculty members like Dr. Miller.
Growing up, Dr. Miller did not know what she wanted to be. It was not until she entered high school when she discovered the possibilities of a communications career.
“I was involved in many things, such as the yearbook committee and the production crew for theatre,” she said, noting that her participation in these extracurricular activities, along with becoming a member of a minority journalism program, inspired her to become a reporter.
“I had a fantasy to become a reporter, but that changed once I realized what my earnings would be after I graduated,” she joked. The earnings, along with finishing a four-year degree in three years, motivated her to earn a master’s degree.
“Once I finished my bachelor’s degree, I thought to myself, ‘oh, my gosh, it’s over!” she recalled. “I was not ready.”
Immediately after earning her a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and film, Dr. Miller went on to earn a master’s in communication — both from the University of Alabama. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for teaching as well.
Becoming a Golden Tiger
While putting the final touches on her dissertation, Dr. Miller came across a teaching position in Tuskegee’s communication program. Since joining the faculty in January 2017, she has been a part of the Tuskegee family. And, she credits her students with helping her adjust to being a Golden Tiger.
“I love Tuskegee — I have the best students,” Dr. Miller said. “Teaching at Tuskegee helps me to understand the significance of HBCUs. It also allows me to get a taste of the HBCU culture, as I did not attend one myself.”
Dr. Miller attests that knowing she has the ability to make an impact on “students who look like me” is one of the most rewarding things about being a professor at Tuskegee. She motivates her students to go beyond their bachelor’s degree, as she feels it is important to see African-Americans with post-bachelor degrees. In fact, she has presented her students with a research opportunity to be presented at Alabama’s Association of Communication conference this summer.
A Passion for Teaching
One of the main reasons that students enjoy Dr. Miller is for her style of teaching. Many students applaud her for not being afraid of change and for being open-minded. Whereas the traditional style of teaching involves lectures, Dr. Miller tries to incorporate technology and pop culture to make the material relevant. She also assigns creative assignments to make the material fun. As a result, students find themselves learning by having fun discussions. Teaching may be just a job for some professors, but for Dr. Miller, teaching goes beyond the classroom.
“I enjoy going to bed at night knowing that I had the chance to make an impact on someone’s life,” she said.
During her studies, she was not fortunate to call someone her mentor; therefore, she takes pride in doing anything to help guide her students along the way. It is for these reasons that Tuskegee shines the spotlight on Dr. Miller.
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