Laura Miller is an associate professor in the School of Communication Studies specializing in communication theory, interpersonal communication, and health communication. At UT since 2015, she is interested in health-related research topics such as how families talk about health and how people support each other during health-related experiences.
Why this field
Growing up, Miller always knew she wanted to teach. Though she initially thought she’d focus on high school English, she decided she preferred the college atmosphere. She also developed a special love for communications.
Miller received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate, all in speech communication, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her master’s program, she got interested in health and realized that the way people talk about health can make a difference in how they experience a health event. She ended up writing her dissertation about health communication.
She enjoys photography, being outdoors and hiking in the mountains, reading, and volunteering in the community. She often volunteers at Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries and has also been involved with Habitat for Humanity and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Through UT, Miller has had the opportunity to teach a summer English course to university students in Beijing, China. Most of the students knew some English but wanted to improve their language skills.
It was challenging but rewarding.
“I think it was just such a great experience because all of the students were so timid at first and by the end of the summer they really opened up,” she said. “By the end of the course they were so much more confident and could stand up in front of the class and give an entire speech in English.”
If she didn’t do this
If she were not a UT professor, she would like to teach abroad—either in Asia or a developing country.
Still on her bucket list
She would like to write a book, have her photography published, and visit all 50 states and all seven continents. She has only four states and one continent left.
Advice to her college-age self
“Take the time to figure out what you are truly passionate about and what your gifts are, and figure out how you can combine them to make a difference.”
One last thing
This is Miller’s third year leading the College of Communication and Information’s Global Scholars program in Sydney, Australia. Through this semester-long program, students have the opportunity to earn 6 credit hours of coursework and complete a 6-credit-hour internship.
“Being a part of this program has been a really fun opportunity to travel and also get to know students in a different capacity because we are all in the experience together,” she said.