Lazarius Miller: Opening the door of opportunity
Lazarius Miller is a senior majoring in biological sciences from Detroit, Mich., and a College of Natural Science Dean’s Research Scholar.
September 26, 2011, was the day that I was accepted to Michigan State University. On this day, I had no idea of what was to come, but I felt opportunity was there. On this same day, I also did not know my lifelong dream of being an educator would start to be more within reach. I was notified about a great opportunity in the MSU College of Education for people who wanted to be teachers. The Urban Educators Cohort Program was the support system I was looking for in going to college. A cohort of people who want to teach in inner cities just as myself. I applied immediately and was not only granted admission, but also a scholarship.
As the time passed, I was also invited to become a member of the Charles Drew Research Scholars Program. This invitation indeed made me feel special because I was going to be in a cohort of other students that had majors in the MSU College of Natural Science. I thought about the classes we would have together and the life long bonds we would forge. The Drew Program had also moved to Rather Hall in the Brody Neighborhood that summer, so it was definitely a plus to have Brody as my primary dinning facility.
When I stepped foot on campus in August 2012, I had a mission to be the best and to be myself. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into by coming to MSU. I was involved in ASMSU Freshman Class Council, Drew Student Organization, regularly attended United Brody Black Caucus, a Sparty’s Barista, I was active in the Urban Educator’s Cohort Program, and I had 14 credits. I enjoyed mostly every part of my first year, from the friends I met on my floor to the people that became my friends from classes, work and organizations. I wanted different experiences that would compliment my Spartan experience and allow me to positively impact my community.
Going into my second year, my interest had not changed much. I had the opportunity to explore my question of how could religious beliefs affect students’ decisions to study science through my position as an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Louise Mead in the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. I also served as an undergraduate research apprentice with, now, Dr. Christine Sprunger at the Kellogg Biological Station, where I looked for the amount of carbon in soil plots in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Both of these experiences, and my coursework on campus and at KBS, got me to think about how I would be able use my environment to teach my students about science that affects them.
In my third and fourth years, my interest started to shift to the realm of College Student Affairs. In my first year as a resident assistant (RA), I was able develop a strong community of support, comradery and purpose with my residents. My AC3s (Aces) pushed me to become a better leader and role model. In my second year as an RA (current) I am working to continue the work that I started last year with my AC3s and looking for mutual learning opportunities for us to develop into productive and diverse young professionals. My role as a Brody REHS Service Center supervisor increased my interest in customer service, staff supervision and community engagement.
Last year, I was selected among a select group of students in the College of Natural Science to represent undergraduate research. As a Dean’s Research Scholar, I have the opportunity to communicate my research and interest to alumni, but I also have an unspoken platform for other students of color to get involved with the college and be represented in this prestigious group. These three unique appointments, along with the NatSci Dean’s Advisory Council and working with the College of Education Student Success Task Force has prompted me to think about how colleges support their students in their education development, as well as how academic colleges could be more intentional with the recruitment, retention and graduation of their students, especially students of color.
I never thought that I would have gotten such a rich experience, but my time here is not yet over, and I am thankful for all the faculty, staff and students that I have had the pleasure of meeting through ASMSU, Drew, REHS, UECP, Deans Research Scholars and the Colleges of Education and Natural Science. I hope to connect my passion for K12 Education and my love for College Student Affairs to provide unique and diverse experiences to inner city youth.