Deborah Miller: Investing in Identity

Deborah Miller | Agricultural Sciences Major | Class of 2024

Pierson-Charlton Family Scholarship Recipient | Camarillo, CA

CAS Club Leadership Team |Student in Educational Opportunities Program

Staying Curious

I would describe myself as someone who is forever curious. I love learning about new places, people, and especially food! Gastronomy is extremely fascinating to me and I try to take the time to not only consider the taste of a meal but also the cooking process or any cultural values it may have. When I have the time, I enjoy trying new recipes at home. My current goal is to get back into baking. Recently, I've also discovered a love for social/partner dancing. It all started with me taking Ballroom I in 2021 and I've been hooked ever since! Since then, I've become an officer in the Swing Club and help teach the history and steps of swing dancing. Being a part of the dance community led me to meet new people and make friendships I wouldn't have otherwise made.

Adventuring Abroad

During my studies, I've had the opportunity to embark on internships and study abroad programs. In the summer of 2022, I interned at a crop insurance agency in Auburn, Nebraska. This experience showed me what agriculture looks like in a different state and taught me how to be an ambassador for Oregon agriculture. I also participated in a study abroad program during the summer of 2023 where I went on the faculty-led program "Farm, Fork, and Fiber: Agriculture in the U.K.". I got to learn about U.K. agriculture as well as visiting historical and cultural sites. My favorite part of the trip had to be the museums, especially the smaller museums about a town's local history.


Leading by Example

Through the College of Ag Sciences, I was able to become a member of the Club Leadership Team. Being a member of the Club Leadership Team has given me the ability to work closely within the college and the students. I work with the college's clubs to provide support, answer questions, and promote club activities to those within and outside the college. This experience allows me to develop leadership, communication, and presentation skills. Communication is a major aspect of my studies and my career, and having the chance to work on these skills is extremely important to me.


Finding my Support System

I identify as a woman of color. Both of these identities are extremely underrepresented within agriculture. In many of my classes and at CAS events, I rarely see anyone who looks like me. During my time at OSU, I made it my goal to learn more about the issues faced by other underrepresented identities in agriculture. This allowed me to better understand these issues and how to be an advocate for myself and others. I have created a strong support system within the College of Agricultural Sciences and I utilize it as much as I can. Outside of the college, I also find support in my involvement through the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP). This program provides academic support and resources for students like myself who come from underserved backgrounds in academia. I meet regularly with a counselor who helps guide me throughout each term. It was my involvement in EOP that led me to receive the Pierson-Charlton Family Scholarship award.

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

When I started to progress further in my studies, it became more apparent to me I still had no idea where I wanted to go or do after graduation. When I was asked where I wanted to work, I could give general tasks or skills but I didn't have a specific title in mind. This caused me a lot of stress as I was worried I would be extremely lost after graduation and would be searching for a job for a long time. However, I used this concern and turned it into motivation to put myself out there. I sought out various learning opportunities outside of the classroom and communicated my interests to my advisor and counselors. This allowed me to have internships, go on a study abroad program, and get involved within the college.

Any advice I'd give is to find ways to get involved with your college! Whether it be through clubs, leadership, research, or even just going to events in your college, it's extremely important to get involved in these types of activities. It's very easy to only focus on classwork and not take advantage of any college-specific learning opportunities. Not only do these activities look great on your resume, they help to connect you with faculty in your college who can then connect you to other academic or professional opportunities.