How I’m pursuing my passions at U of I

Tamia Miller is a senior studying English. During her time at UIUC, she’s worked in roles including undergraduate researcher, teaching assistant, communications specialist, and Writers Workshop consultant. After graduating in May, she’ll be working at Hallmark Cards as a full-time writer.

Tamia MillerDuring my freshman year at UIUC, I had no idea what I was passionate about. I knew I liked to read books, and I always loved writing in my personal journals. However, I didn’t consider those things “passions” yet. They were fun hobbies, but I wasn’t sure I could make a career out of them. So, I set out to find my passions (which didn’t go exactly as planned).

First, I started taking a variety of Gen Ed classes to explore the different majors and minors UIUC offered. My schedule was filled with random interesting classes, from an astronomy course called “Stars and Galaxies” to a class about health disparities within the Black community. After finishing the courses, I was always convinced that each one could be a new passion. Maybe I wanted to go build rockets, or become a licensed social worker. Maybe I wanted to become a speech language pathologist, or a dietitian. As interesting as these classes were, none of them felt like the right fit for me long term. However, one writing class actually did lead me to my perfect fit: RHET 233.

RHET 233—Advanced Rhetoric & Composition—was the first writing class I took on campus. Each week we discussed different topics related to food writing, including restaurant reviews and cookbooks. There was never a dull period, with class activities ranging from watching and analyzing a Food Network show to creating our own class blog. This class made me realize all the reasons why I loved writing so much: experimenting with new words, finding different ways to express myself, doing research on interesting topics, collaborating with other writers, and so much more. I was excited to go to class and couldn’t wait to start new writing projects. Finally, I was sure about my passion (even though it took me a while to realize it)!

After taking RHET 233, I knew I wanted to continue improving my writing skills. I signed up for every English and creative writing course I could, and felt confident about being an English major. Additionally, I started looking into internships and research positions for English majors on campus. With the help of ATLAS, an organization on campus that helps LAS students gain technical skills, I landed a position as a communications specialist. In this role, I wrote social media copy for the Humanities Professional Resource Center on campus. I also started my current role as a Writers Workshop consultant, where I get to meet different writers and help students improve various writing pieces. Finally, I completed a summer internship this year as a writing/editorial intern for Hallmark Cards, where I’ll be heading to work full-time after graduation!

Ultimately, UIUC has given me the resources, support, and mentors to find and cultivate my passions as a writer. With organizations like ATLAS and the Humanities Professional Resource Center, as well as amazing classes and internships, I’ve been able to try out different roles and focus on the experiences that truly fulfill me.

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Tamia Miller