Suzanne Buchholz, Reporter
Laurie Miller helps people figure out their goals in life and how to fulfill their dreams. As the new American Honors adviser at Pierce College Puyallup, she’ll have the opportunity to reach out to even more people and do what she loves best.
Miller grew up in a small, rural community in Buckley with her parents and older brother. She enjoyed playing softball, and was involved in both choir and track at White River High School.
When Miller was 17-years-old her father died, causing her to make changes to her plans for the future. Instead of looking into any out-of-state colleges, she chose to attend a local school in order to stay close to her mother.
Immediately after graduation she was accepted into Pacific Lutheran University to major in marketing, but soon found herself having second thoughts about this choice.
“I took my first accounting class and said, ‘Hmm’,” Miller said. “I changed quickly to psychology. I had a Psych 101 class that I really, really liked, so I actually have both my master’s and my bachelor’s in psychology.”
Miller took an extended break from PLU to pay off student loans, later attending Saint Martin’s University to finish her bachelor’s where she met and married her husband. After this, she completed her degree through the education center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Due to her husband’s involvement in the military, Miller has taken up an array of jobs in her lifetime. She lived in Virginia for a while, working as a specialist and manager for family programs deploying and redeploying soldiers, as well as teaching at community colleges, an experience that fostered her love for education. She’s also worked as a banker and bookkeeper, both of which blended with her love of numbers.
“Being a military spouse, (jumping from job to job) just kind of happens,” Miller said.
One of her more impactful jobs was being a counselor in Soldier for Life, a program for soldiers who are transitioning from military positions to different paths in life. Miller would help these soldiers decide on their best choices, whether it was going back to school to further their education or seeking out new career opportunities. She enjoyed being able to make a difference in their lives by walking them through big decisions. She soon found herself focusing more on advising than psychology.
Thanks to this position, she found out about the position available at Pierce College. As part of her job, she had to be in the know of myriad job openings in order to help former soldiers seek employment after leaving the military. After hearing about the need for a new American Honors adviser, the idea immediately piqued her interest.
“I thought, ‘Oh you know what, that sounds interesting’,” Miller said. “So I just really started investigating, checked out the website and asked other people what they know about it, and I just really fell in love with the program.“
The purpose of American Honors is to provide intensive one-on-one support and advanced programs to students who plan on transferring to prestigious four-year universities. Numerous universities and colleges look for American Honors students when going over applications.
Miller says she’s excited to have this opportunity to interact with students on such a close level and use her skills to guide them down the right paths in life.
“My ultimate hope is that nobody has to take the same convoluted road to a degree that I did,” Miller said. “I would like to save people that time and money.”
When not at work, Miller enjoys spending time with her family. Whenever possible, she likes to have family get-togethers and attend sporting events for her daughter and niece. Being part of the military, Miller has came to realize that family includes good friends as well.
“Sometimes family is more than just the blood connection,” Miller said.
Miller also enjoys activities that are creative and stress-relieving, such as canning. Recently she made and canned salsa with tomatoes from her own garden. She would also like to learn how to knit.
Miller’s favorite part of the American Honors program is spending time with the students she advises, chatting with them about their classes and goals and guiding them through the process of selecting schools and choosing the best scholarships.
“With determination and effort, dreams are achievable,” Miller said. “I’m here to help people fulfill their big dreams.”
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