Joshua Miller, a senior acting major and campus leader from Chicago, shares how Performance Learning is center stage in his MU experience.
Why did you choose to attend Millikin University? What made MU the best fit for you?
I knew Millikin was the place for me because of that feeling of belonging, of being part of the Big Blue. I feel a sense of joy and possibility every time I come back to campus. Millikin is a good fit because of the many opportunities here. There is a real sense of interdepartmental cooperation. We see it in the relationship the School of Nursing has created with the School of Theatre and Dance, but also in how the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement collaborates with many different student organizations. We are all interdependent; we thrive together.
Tell us more about the partnership between the School of Nursing and the School of Theatre and Dance.
Now in its second year, the Simulated Patient program was created to give nursing students experience working with patients and diagnosing symptoms. Student actors are contacted and given a list of symptoms to “act out,” (upset stomach, headache, back pain, etc.). The nursing students then work on determining a diagnosis based on the symptoms. The nursing students practice patient interaction, procedure and policy, and the acting students get the opportunity to practice their acting skills. It’s the essence of Performance Learning!
Why did you choose your major? What do you love the most about it?
I started as a biology major but realized it wasn’t for me. I asked myself, “If money and time were not a factor, what would I do for the rest of my life?” Growing up, I was very involved in church plays and in my high school theatre department. When I thought about how I felt performing on stage, I knew I had to be involved in theatre, no matter what.
You have been a Long-Vanderburg Scholar for four years. Why is the program important?
The LV Program crafts leaders who understand their purposes in life. We study the greatest minds to better understand them, but also to analyze our own habits and leadership qualities. By analyzing the greatest minds and our own habits, we can apply their habits to our lives.
You’re very involved on campus, and currently serve as president of the Black Student Union. What are your hopes for that organization? Do you have specific goals during your term as president?
My biggest goal is to create a space where students of color can voice their opinions, learn about their culture and express themselves, no matter who they are. I also want to encourage involvement by other students who are interested in learning more about the black experience and culture, because that is the only way we will be able to stop hatred and spread love.
What other campus organizations or activities are you involved in?
I try to support every campus organization because we all do extremely important work. I am a First Year Experience Mentor. [First Year Experience Mentors help new students adjust to campus life and academics throughout their first year at MU. Mentors are involved in Orientation and Registration, First Week, seminar courses, service learning and various campus activities.] I was the publicity chair of Brothers Moving Forward, an organization that aims to help the minority male student population through support of academic excellence, brotherly fellowship, community service and high standards of personal integrity. I’m also a member of African Student Organization and a member of Multicultural Student Council. I am involved with the Latin American Student Organization, and I am forming a new organization called CONQUERence. I have also been part of the Box City activity and Ebony Ball (where I was crowned “Mr. Ebony”), and I was recently crowned MU’s 2017 Homecoming king. I have participated in opening convocation, and I have performed at the welcome assembly.
Tell us more about CONQUERence.
The idea started while I studied abroad in London. We all saw how much theatre was incorporated in the lives of British citizens, and the caliber of shows being produced amazed us. We saw productions that not only included people of color in every show, but also people with disabilities. We were so immersed in diverse theatre that we wanted to bring something like that to Millikin. We wanted to give students more opportunities to perform and to bring shows to Millikin that began conversations we need to have on campus and in our communities. We wanted to start creating theatre that was impacting our community.
Who do you consider to be your role model?
I have many role models, but my most visible one is Tonya Hines [Millikin’s assistant director of inclusion]. She is such a great team player and exudes creativity. Whether working with students, staff or faculty, she brings out the best in the process and the people. I strive for her level of collaboration and creativity.
What has been your biggest accomplishment during your time at Millikin?
Finding friends who are supportive and challenge me to be better.
What has been your most difficult challenge at Millikin?
Finding that balance all students strive to find once we get here; figuring out what is important to me as a person versus what I could give up and still be happy. Being a student leader can also be difficult. With each new title comes a lot more responsibility, and there are days when I don’t always feel I am fulfilling those responsibilities.
What advice would you give incoming students?
Be true to you. Never try to be like anyone, but strive to know yourself more than anyone else. That is where you will find success, because if it aligns with who you are as a person, then you know you are doing something right.
How has your experience at Millikin changed you? Are you the same person you were when you arrived on campus?
I am no longer afraid of the future. Millikin has prepared me for the real world through Performance Learning — putting what we are learning to the test with real-world experience. Each experience has taught me a different level of professionalism and time management. I have been molded into a professional during my four years.
Where do you see yourself in the future, and how do you plan to get there?
I plan to get there one step at a time. I see myself creating my own form of theatre, traveling the country and hopefully the world, and spreading knowledge to everyone that I encounter. I currently see my journey starting in Chicago and from there, only time will tell.