The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Humans of UWL: Sophie Miller

Sophie Miller with the March edition of The Racquet Press. Photo taken by Trinity Rietmann.

Spring graduation came up quickly, and many students graduated this past weekend. It was a time of hustling to finish up finals and presentations, but also a time for looking back on the college experience.One of these sentimental students is The Racquet Press’s Social Justice Reporter, Sophie Miller (She/her). 

Miller will be graduating from UWL with degrees in both political science and communication studies with an emphasis in public advocacy communication and a minor in social justice. While she didn’t begin her college career as a double major, she fell in love with communications and considers it her “first” major. 

Her favorite articles include her article on Transgender Awareness Week, “I deserve to be seen and others deserve to see me”,  and all her articles on the many multicultural organizations and clubs on campus. Miller also wrote an article about the drag show and said she took over 800 pictures; all of the pictures were sent to the Pride Center afterwards and can be seen hanging in the center’s space in the COVE. 

Miller worked several jobs during her college tenure, including delivering pizzas for Toppers, interning at the Wisconsin Executive Residence and working security for Summerfest. One job that stood out to Miller was her time as a server at Lovechild, a fine dining restaurant in downtown La Crosse. 

“[Lovechild] is one of my favorite places in La Crosse. The owners, Jay [Sparks] and Joan [Ferris] are probably the best people you could ever work for. It’s a fun job, the food is great and the people are amazing,” said Miller. 

Balancing every aspect of college comes with defining priorities. Miller described her order as: your own health and wellbeing, then school and then work, in that order. She talked about how her priorities didn’t mean she couldn’t work while at school, and what she valued most was remembering that she was a human being first. 

“Just give yourself grace and… take care of yourself. You’re never going to be in college again and you have the rest of your life to work. Carve out the time for the concert, or going downtown, or whatever it is for you,” said Miller. 

Miller continued with advice for students struggling with life during college years, “You’re allowed to feel things and be overwhelmed. Allow yourself to take a step back and reach out for help. Ask for the extensions–the professors are human beings too and they get it.” 

Miller also worked as a resident assistant (RA) for two years with the Office of Residence Life, as a Students Educating and Embracing Diversity (SEED) resident assistant in Hutchison Hall and as senior staff in Laux Hall. Working in Residence Life had a profound impact on Miller. 

“I learned so much about my leadership style and capabilities and my ability to manage crises effectively. The things I went through will stick with me forever and have made me who I am,” said Miller. 

Miller met one of her future mentors, Reg Hawkins, the current assistant director for retention in the Office of Multicultural Student Services, when she worked as an RA. 

“[Hawkins] was my hall director in Laux Hall when I was an RA. I can’t imagine college without him being there every step of the way,” said Miller. 

Miller reflected on many people who have made her time at UWL so memorable, including two professors paramount to her education and her well being: Assistant Professors of Communication Studies Dr. Taylor Cole Miller and Dr. Brandon Anderson. 

“[Hawkins, Taylor Cole Miller, and Anderson] made me feel so seen and heard and were so understanding of everything that I was going through with multiple jobs and a traumatic experience in Residence Life my third year. They stepped up and showed up for me; that’s something I am grateful every single day for,” said Miller. 

Miller continued, “They provided me a safe space to be myself and express my worries. They’re people I will always be in contact with, even after my time at UWL is done; they’re amazing human beings!” 

After graduation, Miller will be heading off to graduate school at Northern Illinois University (NIU) to pursue a masters degree in higher education and student affairs. Her mentors were more than helpful with writing letters of recommendation in a timely manner.

“I don’t want to think about how many [letters] I have asked those three men for, but they never once complained. I would apologize for annoying them, but they would respond ‘I want to talk about you,’” said Miller. 

Miller’s plans after grad school aren’t set in stone yet, but Miller hopes to work in higher education and eventually pursue a doctorate degree. She mentioned going in the direction of being a professor and being a mentor to students like the ones she had. 

Miller brought up her sister and brother-in-law Ciara and Trevor Hanson as two other major influences on her life. According to Miller, the emotional support they provided during her college years and her entire life is irreplaceable. 

“Ciara and I are first-generation college students, and having her support and knowledge was so instrumental to me being here. She pushed me to go for every opportunity, including applying to grad school. Trevor has been somebody I’ve always looked up to; I’m honored to be following in his footsteps [at NIU],” said Miller. 

Another relationship that developed while Miller was at UWL was her friendship with Sergeant Nikki Miller at University Police. Nikki helped Miller when she was an RA, helping her see the good and validate the bad in every situation. 

Miller also mentioned how important her friends’ support has been throughout college, whether it was listening to hour-long rant sessions, having fun, or just breathing and living with them. 

“It’s so important to have people you can just be yourself with, and they are my people,” said Miller. 

Last summer, Miller fostered cats with the Coulee Region Humane Society and enjoyed the experience so much she adopted a cat of her own. On Halloween last year, Miller took home Monte and has been kept on her toes since. She cites getting Monte as one of the best decisions she’s ever made. 

Miller’s impact on Residence life was rewarded multiple times, with Miller receiving the Student Employee of the Year Award in 2023 and being nominated for the Kohler Award, which celebrates student leadership, both of her years in Residence Life. 

Miller’s academic excellence was also recognized as a recipient of the Undergraduate Student Excellence Award for the Department of Communication Studies. She has been on the dean’s list every semester and is graduating with highest honors. 

Miller concluded with advice she would give to her first-year self, “Truthfully, you are about to experience the best and worst days of your life over the next four years. You’re going to get through it. You are going to accomplish so much more than you ever thought you would. Don’t take it for granted.”

To read Miller’s articles, click here.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ann David
Ann David, Multimedia Editor
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Eau Claire, WI
  • Major: English: Medical Professions Emphasis
  • Minor: Biology; Music Performance
  • Other Campus Involvement: UWL Wind Ensemble and Orchestra Member
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Attending grad school in Minnesota
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Walking through the Rotary Lights at Riverside Park in the winter with friends.
Donate to The Racquet Press

Comments (0)

All The Racquet Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *