Deborah Miller

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Deborah Miller

Graduation Year: 1985
Major: Political Science
Minor: Economics
Current Job: Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Location: Washington, DC
Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor

Deborah Miller grew up in Philadelphia and always aspired to attend Penn State.

“If, like me, you grow up in a working-class family in Philadelphia and no one in your family had ever gone to college before, Penn State was a beacon. A place where you know you could get a great education at a reasonable price. I never thought seriously about any other college,” said Miller. “My parents believed deeply in the power of education and did everything they could to help me succeed. I remember them being so proud when I was accepted to Penn State.”

Once she got to Penn State, Miller threw herself into a variety of clubs and organizations. She was a member of the University Scholars Program and joined Pi Sigma Alpha, an honor society for college students majoring in political science. Miller also participated in intramural sports such as flag football and bowling. During her four years, she had the opportunity to study abroad in the United Kingdom and participate in an internship with a congressional campaign office. In addition to all of her extracurriculars, Miller also spent a lot of time working in Penn State’s dining halls.

In her current career as a Foreign Service Officer, Miller has had the opportunity to work overseas in various U.S. Embassies such as Russia, Georgia, India, Latvia, and Kazakhstan. She also served in the Office of Russian Affairs in the Department of State in Washington D.C. Currently, Miller is in Washington, DC preparing for her next assignment to the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, Iraq.

Before Miller joined the Department of State, she worked as a lawyer at a private practice. She went on to work in a multitude of positions at Thomas/Reuters, a legal publishing firm.

Miller credits her interest in international travel to the time she spent while she was abroad. She always wanted a career with an international angle while also being involved in public service.

“For me, being a Foreign Service Officer is the best job in the world,” said Miller.                       

In addition to her study abroad experience, Miller says the College of the Liberal Arts provided an education and experiences that helped her to achieve where she is today.

“As a Foreign Service Officer representing the United States abroad, you draw on some many aspects of a liberal arts education: a deep knowledge of American culture, history, and values; the ability to communicate with people from various cultures and communities – both verbally and in writing; and analytical, planning, and negotiation skills,” said Miller. “I think I am successful in my career because of the foundational skills and knowledge I gained at Penn State in the College of the Liberal Arts.”

Since graduating, Miller has continued to be an active alumna of the College of the Liberal Arts. She is a member of the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program and says that being part of the mentorship program is “the most important part of being a Penn Stater.”

“I love sharing my experience with students,” said Miller. “I love to hear all about their ideas, interests, and internships. Being a mentor embodies the statement We Are.”

Penn State has also grown to be a family school after her brother graduated from the College of Engineering. In addition to the mentor program, Miller stays active by participating in networking and mentoring events for students. In the fall of 2018, Miller was on the Law Careers panel for the College of the Liberal Arts.

In April of 2019, Miller was honored with the Outstanding Public Service Alumni Award from the Department of Political Science.

To current liberal arts students, Miller gives the following advice: “Be Curious. Be Brave. Be Persistent.”

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