Feature Stories 2016: Jacob Miller: Effecting change through student leadership

Feature Stories 2016: Jacob Miller: Effecting change through student leadership
Jacob Miller: Effecting change through student leadership

Student Trustee Jacob Miller '16 has an unwavering commitment to public service.

Year: Class of 2016
Dual major: Political science; English - writing, rhetoric & communication
Minors: Leadership & civic engagement; urban studies
Honors: Truman Scholar, Commonwealth Scholar, 29 Who Shine
Awards: Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows Award, Lamar E. McClinton Student Leadership Award
Service: Student Trustee, Endeavor Scholar, Student Government Association, Student Run Business Association, SouthCoast Serves
Internship: Office of State Senator Mark C. Montigny
Next steps:
Advocacy work with Opportunity Nation

UMass Dartmouth Student Trustee Jacob Miller '16 has an unwavering commitment to public service.

"This institution has transformed me into a public service leader," he said. In turn, Jacob has helped transform UMass Dartmouth.

As Student Trustee for the last two years, he has represented UMass Dartmouth students on the UMass Board of Trustees, which acts as the main policy-making body for the UMass System.

Jacob was recently recognized as one of "29 Who Shine," an elite group of students representing the Commonwealth's 29 public colleges and universities, who were honored for their academic achievements and civic contributions.

Creating change on campus & in the community

On campus, Jacob is the founding CEO of the Student Run Business Association, which last year launched the Jumpin' Juice smoothie bar at the Fitness Center. Jacob has also been active in student government and served as the Student Coordinator for UMass Dartmouth's community service collaboration, SouthCoast Serves.

"Student government is a way to create profound change on campus," Jacob said, "and I feel that my fellow student government representatives and I have created that change."

"As a leader, you're on the forefront of actions that the university is taking and have the opportunity to provide your input, ensuring student-centeredness," he added.

"There are a lot of learning moments, which I think are beneficial to anyone who wants to better him- or herself."

In the SouthCoast community, Jacob has taken an active role in the restoration of New Bedford's Tonnessen Square Park, the establishment of the New Bedford Seaport Cultural District, and the development of a service-learning curriculum for the Dartmouth Public School system.

His impact has also been felt statewide in championing the passage of healthcare legislation that made it easier for students to keep their less-expensive plans under the state's Health Connector—an effort he undertook while serving as an intern for State Senator Mark C. Montigny.

The importance of communication grounded in data

A UMass Dartmouth Endeavor Scholar and a first-generation college student, Jacob decided to major in both political science and writing/rhetoric/communication because of the importance of communication grounded in facts and data. Both majors have taught him how to navigate the world around him.

"As someone who wants to critically and successfully engage in the community, I feel that I need to understand the issues through data, while being able to communicate effectively to advocate for change," he said.

He also has two minors: leadership and civic engagement, and urban studies.

For his Commonwealth Scholar thesis project, Jacob created The Common Project, a research and story-telling web platform to empower millennial citizens to engage in civic society. A print version of Issue 1 has also been released.

"The Common Project provides a forum and toolkit for millennials—born between 1981 and 2000—to engage in both political and voluntary organizations in their community," he said. "The research and stories will be used to develop best practices and toolkits for aspiring engaged citizens by targeting two key areas: volunteerism and political engagement."

Continuing commitment to public service

In 2015, Jacob was the only Massachusetts student—and the first UMass Dartmouth student—to be named a Truman Scholar, a prestigious national award honoring leadership and commitment to public service.

Jacob also received a 2014 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows Award. The national award recognizes students who are motivated to create change in their communities and inspire those around them.

This summer, Jacob plans to work at Opportunity Nation, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that promotes the revival of the American Dream and the expansion of economic opportunity. He'll work with youth to prepare them to advocate for opportunity, and will make presentations to businesses, boards, and civic leaders about Opportunity Nation's mission.