Channon S. Miller ’11

Survey bio - Channon Miller.jpgJOB TITLE: Ph.D. candidate
ORGANIZATION: Boston University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, American Studies Program
LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts
GRADUATE DEGREE: M.A. in American studies, Boston University

What was your first position after college? I entered Boston University as a post-B.A. Ph.D. student in American studies in September 2011.

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? A liberal arts education made my current career path possible. Without it, I wouldn’t have the background necessary to thrive within, let alone be accepted into, a doctoral program in the humanities. At Trinity, I was an American studies major, and it was there that my commitment to being a scholar of the field was sown.   

What aspects of your Trinity experience have been important to advancing your career or graduate school experience? The aspects of my Trinity experience that have been most important in advancing my graduate work include the course work. I entered my graduate program with an awareness of the best writing practices and key scholarship. The various teaching assistantships I held at Trinity prepared me early on for the teaching and lecturing positions I now hold. Lastly, the rigorous writing I am expected to complete as a graduate student was foregrounded by my completion of large undergraduate research projects. This includes the research I conducted while enrolled in the Washington Semester Program (spring 2010) and my senior project.

Also valuable was my experience as a student leader on Trinity’s campus. I served as president of Imani (the Black Student Union), co-chair of the Trinity College Black Women’s Organization (TCBWO), a WGRAC volunteer, a residential assistant, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. As a graduate student, leadership is very important as we plan for student conferences and manage our graduate school association. I entered my graduate program feeling confident about my ability to contribute to my new institution and balance this leadership with my academic workload.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? I would suggest that current students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. should begin discussing their plans with an adviser and professors during their junior year at the latest. Faculty will be able to point students toward great programs, as well as make them aware of what to look for in a potential graduate program. In addition to this, be sure to pursue teaching and research assistantships. Ph.D. programs look for and value these experiences, as they constitute a great deal of what will be expected of you. I would also suggest that you look for programs geared toward shaping and preparing college students for a career in academia.

Lastly, be sure to put a great deal of work into your papers (particularly in the classes that are in your prospective field). You can use these writing samples for graduate school applications, as well as Honors Day or academic/research conference submissions. It’s never too early to build your resume and be competitive in the Ph.D. application pool!

What is the biggest misconception about your field? Working in academia closes you off from completing important work in the greater public and community. One of the reasons I majored in American studies as an undergraduate, and made it my career following Trinity, is that it allowed me to not only become an expert in my areas of focus, but its interdisciplinary scope provided me with opportunities to consider the ways in which this knowledge could not only be applied in the classroom but also within other institutions, such as think tanks or social-policy arenas.