Posted on Monday, March 5, 2018
Waterloo, Iowa is a long way from the quaint, homey town of New Wilmington— approximately 11ish hours matter of fact. For alumna Hannah Miller ’13 (Paczkowski), going to college outside of Iowa was very important to her. She didn’t quite know at the moment just how far her collegiate pursuits would take her from home. However, all it took was one college visit to assure her Westminster was where she was meant to be.
“All throughout high school, I was dead-set on going to St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN,” shared Miller. “I even had a check ready to go for enrollment.”
Check-in-hand and mind-made-up, Miller was certain St. Thomas was the path for her until an unexpected turn of events. Her father, who was the senior pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Waterloo at the time, came across a letter about the Young Presbyterian Scholars program at Westminster. He decided to nominate Miller for the scholarship, and encouraged her to apply.
“We honestly thought I wouldn’t get the scholarship,” she admitted. “It was just a “wait and see what happens” kind of thing.”
She wouldn’t have to wait much longer. Soon after, Miller received her acceptance letter to Westminster and also learned she earned the YPS scholarship. She tore up that deposit check to St. Thomas and committed to Westminster.
At Westminster, Miller studied broadcast communications under the mentorship of Brad Weaver. With aspirations of becoming a morning news anchor, she quickly became involved with clubs and organizations that would sharpen her skill set. She pledged Zeta Tau Alpha; joined Student Government Association and Student Alumni Association; became a campus tour guide and eventually worked her way up to being Editor-In-Chief of the Holcad.
Using the valuable, real-world applicable experience she collected throughout her extracurricular activities, Miller graduated with a job as a reporter for KLKN-TV in Lincoln, NE. Though she would eventually be promoted to her dream job as a morning news anchor, Miller quickly learned that she didn’t have the passion for the industry anymore.
“My dream all through high school and college was to be the person people had their morning coffee with,” shared Miller. “I was totally psyched when that day came! The first few months were amazing, but as time went on, the honeymoon wore off. I found I didn’t really love what I was doing.”
At the same time, Miller’s life was full of changes. As a reporter, she met her soon-to-be husband who lived about an hour away. The couple eventually moved in together, which extended her morning commute and meant she had to leave for work by 2 a.m. Between long commutes and longer work hours, Miller started feeling the wear and tear of the news industry. She felt herself changing into a person she no longer recognized. Yearning for change, Miller decided to take a leap into a whole new field for her—the non profit sector. She landed a job as a communications/recruitment specialist with a local mentoring organization called TeamMates, and began trekking her new career path.
Now that she’s settled into her new role, Miller admits changing professions has been her biggest challenge thus far. Broadcast news is fast-paced with tight deadlines. Now she works in a more laid-back environment with lengthier deadlines. As a news reporter and morning anchor, her job focused more on negative stories or finding the ‘scoop’. Her current role is all about spreading positivity and telling the stories about the inspirational work TeamMates does matching young students with mentors. Miller still manages to use her broadcast communications skills from time to time, creating documentaries and writing stories about the matches.
Hannah Miller’s journey proves the value of a liberal arts education. The news industry did not turn out like she expected; however, Miller remained resilient and resourceful like a true Titan and found a career that allows her to be her best self.
“If your job makes you feel less than or makes you feel like you’re becoming a person you don’t like, find something that makes you want to wake up every day. Be who YOU want to be!”