Andrew Miller, starring in ‘All My Passions’
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science | College of Arts and Sciences | 2014
Where is UMKC taking you?
I found my passion. UMKC really let me explore my passions. I got to call the basketball games and volleyball on the radio with a headset on the sideline. I got to serve as vice president of student government and I was our student lobbyist. I was with the pre-med society and went to Houston for a medical convention. I really squeezed all the juice out here; I did everything I could do here.
What prompted you to switch your major from pre-med to political science?
When I was 18, I wanted to be a doctor. At that age, you think there are only two jobs, you can be a doctor or a lawyer and you really don’t know more about the job fields so I chose doctor. At the same time, I’m a type 1 diabetic so I spent a lot of my childhood at Children’s Mercy and a lot of those doctors and nurses kind of became my role models and I wanted to be like them. At the same time, I like politics and policy. I passed the classes in pre-med but I didn’t care about carbon molecules, I cared about policies and laws and politics. That was fascinating to me.
What do you enjoy most about UMKC?
It’s hard to pick. The location is perfect, the people are friendly and the professors are outstanding. But more than anything, UMKC is student centered. We really get to make it our own. Take concerts for example. Like many students, I thought we should bring back big concerts so I wrote a resolution for our student government association that passed and Future recently came to UMKC (April 28, 2016). Students made that happen and our school’s administration enabled us to do so.
“Being able to study such a wide array of topics inspires me to be a life-long learner.”
How has your college program inspired you?
My program, emphasizing health services administration, has allowed me to study the things I’m passionate about, and explore passions I didn’t even know I had. Here are some of the awesome things I’ve done in my MPA program: Open up financial statements of hospitals and make recommendations for improving performance, make a documentary about gun violence in Kansas City, write a paper about a school system reform idea I’ve had for years, explore why Time Warner is a utility but Google Fiber is not and much more. Being able to study such a wide array of topics inspires me to be a life-long learner.
Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?
More than anything, I learned my range. When I graduated from high school, all I wanted to be was a doctor. But now I work at Veolia Energy, a power plant that was built in 1903, and I get to wear a helmet and walk by these seven-story machines and there’s hundreds of buttons and levers, and how cool is that? I also am a strategic-planning intern at Children’s Mercy, where I’ve always wanted be. There, I use census data to tell the story of who our patients are. On top of that, I lead Associated Students of University of Missouri (ASUM), UMKC’s student lobbying group, informing lawmakers about student issues and educating students on the political process. I also find time to lead a statewide political organization and oh yeah, I have class, too.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?
“Don’t feel like you don’t belong here.” – Sarah Martin-Anderson
I was not a 4.0 undergrad, and my GRE scores weren’t extraordinary, but I was still admitted to one of the top business schools in the world…I felt like I cheated the system by getting in, and that I didn’t really deserve to be here. Dr. Martin-Anderson is my advisor, and in our first meeting she told me I did belong in the program, and I had just as much of a right to be there as my classmates. I have worked really hard these past two years to prove her right, and she had her I-told-you-so-moment recently when she signed my application for graduation.
What are your lifelong goals and how is UMKC helping you reach them?
I’ve always wanted to be back at Children’s Mercy and work there. At any hospital, I want to walk in, yell, “Wooo,” do push-ups in the hallway, high-five the doctors and the nurses and then walk into an office that helps make decisions that betters the hospital and betters the patients and the families there. That’s really fascinating to me. I’m a political guy and I can envision myself tracking legislation that moves through the statehouse or Congress and say, ‘This is how it affects our hospital, here’s what we can do about it. Here’s my analysis. Here’s how we feel, ok, now let me go talk to the lawmakers about that.’ That’s what I feel qualified for, what I feel I could do well. I could see myself doing that for a long time.
I’m happy with the degree I have. It’s been fun. I’ve been interested. I’m challenged every day. I’m making a documentary about gun violence in Kansas City. I have no film experience, but we’re using our iPhones and we’re talking to the Kansas City Police Department, we’re talking to Mothers in Charge, we’re talking to Truman Medical Center. We’re going to do big, cool stuff. It’s cool to go to class and do that every day. It’s like the further along I went in my educational career, the more fun I have and more of what I’m studying is lining up with what I want to study.
Are you a first generation college student?
No, both of my parents graduated from college. However, I know a college education was life-changing for my dad, and he instilled that in me. Like a lot of our parents, my dad grew up with very little, and being his son and improving upon the life he gave me is my purpose. I know how much it means to him to see me succeed, and making him proud is my favorite thing.
What motto do you live by?
It’s not really a motto, but I try to be really careful about noticing when people help me and be grateful for that. I had a lot of fun at school, but I was really enabled to do that by the university, by our administration. They’ve created a very student-centered experience for me. I think about my advisors for ASUM and lobbyist group. I’ll ask them what to do and they’ll just say, ‘well, this is your ship, we’re just here to help you steer it.’ And it’s been that kind of attitude all the way around, so I really been enabled here.
What really excites you? Feeling useful, feeling like you’re getting to make a difference. At UMKC, yeah, I go to class and that’s fun, but when I get to go to the capital and talk to the lawmakers with like-minded college students and get to walk around the halls like we belong there, that’s really fun, that’s exciting. I love doing that, knowing that you did something, that the world is different because you did something, or the school is better because you helped it. That really excites me.
What’s your greatest fear?
First and foremost, horses. Horses are godless killing machines.
Secondly, I’m afraid of uncertainty, the big changes coming in my life. My best friends are moving away, and this August will be the first in 19 years that I will not be going back to school. What’s that going to be like? Am I going to find a job that I like, where I can feel useful? I’m somewhat comforted knowing that everyone else in my position feels this way, and there is a sense of excitement starting to bubble inside me. It’s hard to imagine the next six years being as great as the past six years, but I think that speaks more to how awesome UMKC has been to me, rather than legitimate worries about what graduation will bring. I am also scared of elevators.
What is one word that best describes you?
Loyal. I am the world’s biggest advocate for anything I am a part of. At UMKC, I became an orientation leader so I could spend hours talking about how great we are. In my personal statement in applying to the Bloch School, I told them UMKC is the only school I am applying to, and the only place I wanted to be. No one loves Kansas City or the Royals more than I do, and don’t even get me started on barbecue. More importantly, I’m loyal to the people in my life, and I’m as fiercely devoted to them as I am to anything else.