Did you know Professor Miller is an SCU Psychology Alumna?
Professor Romina Miller, our alumni spotlight, might seem familiar. You’ve probably seen her milling around Alumni Science, frantically carrying copies and poking fun at students as she does so. She’s very familiar with Alumni Science – just 9 years ago, Professor Miller was sitting in room 220, learning about developmental psychology and hoping for sunshine.
Since graduating with the class of 2014, Professor Miller’s professional track has had quite a few curves. After taking a gap year to spend time playing with kids in an afterschool program, Miller went on to pursue her PhD in developmental psychology. She spent 3 years studying theories of motivation, specifically in academic settings with an emphasis on improving motivation and academic achievement in underserved populations. However, as she approached her 4th year of graduate school, it dawned on her that she didn’t know anything about urban spaces – where many underserved populations reside or academic motivation in the classroom outside of theory. So in a mildly impulsive and dramatic exit, Professor Miller left graduate school in the hopes of directly teaching – rather than studying – students from marginalized communities.
From there, Professor Miller began teaching high school students in East San Jose. From 2019 to 2022, Professor Miller partnered with the community to deliver an engaging and relevant psychology curriculum to all high school students. Despite this time including a pandemic, Professor Miller enjoyed seeing the theoretical concepts she studied and wrote about manifest in her classroom. During undergrad, she always knew this information would come in handy, but she never realized how interesting it would be to see how her understanding of development, theories of motivation, and various other concepts would come together to improve her teaching abilities.
Following the birth of her second child Professor Miller took a hiatus from teaching high school students. In a fortuitous series of events, Dr. Whitfield, the newly appointed chair of the department, reached out asking if she wanted to teach psychology courses at her alma mater. She’s been here ever since! Now she spends her time teaching the introductory psychology courses, adolescent development, and psychology of education. When she’s not teaching, she’s working with Dr. Barbara Burns in the Child Studies department on the Safe, Secured, Loved - Resilient Families Project. When she’s not doing that, she’s doing coursework to complete her Doctorate in Education.
Her advice for students? “My advice is two fold. When you’re thinking about your next steps after college, think about what serves you. Choices about what to do next aren’t always clear and there are often multiple pathways to achieve your goals. Consider, will this serve me in the long run or am I being short sighted? Just because something looks good, sounds good, or is convenient, doesn’t mean it’s going to help you get to where you need to go.” The second part of the advice? “Take as many math or statistics classes as you can in graduate school. It might sound boring and very lame, but it makes you more viable on the job market.”