Dean loves connecting with students
By Ashlee Buhler
Editor in Chief
It’s never too late to change your outlook on life. Ronda Miller is living proof.
On Dec. 2, Miller officially became the dean of Student Affairs at LCC. However, the journey to what she now calls her “dream job” was a bit unorthodox.
From a young age Miller hated school. Although she said she was good at it, going to class was never really her cup of tea.
In college she quickly took advantage of her newfound freedom.
“At Michigan State the classrooms were large,” Miller said. “There were around 300 people in my first class. For a person who doesn’t like school, I realized very quickly that they wouldn’t know if I was there or not … so I stopped going to class.”
During her junior year at Michigan State, Miller became pregnant. As a single mother, she eventually moved back home with her parents and dropped out of school.
It was during that time that Miller realized she didn’t like the direction her life was going.
“I just kind of felt like this wasn’t the life that God had planned for me,” Miller said. “I knew I wanted my daughter to look up to me, so I decided to go back to school.”
Miller was accepted back at Michigan State on academic probation, which meant she had three terms to pull her GPA up. For the first time ever, she met with an academic adviser and began going to her professor’s office hours.
This time around Miller was funding her own education, rather than getting assistance from her parents. She took a job on campus cleaning buildings from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
“I had this different hustle about me,” Miller said. “It was important for me to do well. I think my first term back I took maybe 14 credits and did well. That was such a great feeling to see my potential.”
After graduating from Michigan State, Miller began working as an outreach worker in the health department. Then she worked as an at-risk counselor for the Lansing School District, which helped her to discover her passion for helping students.
“I just fell in love with the students and trying to connect their families with resources,” Miller said. “I’ve always felt it’s important for me to let somebody know that I care and that I’m going to support them and help them through whatever they are going through.”
Miller eventually decided to go back to school, this time at Western Michigan University, to get her master’s degree.
After graduation she landed a job in admissions at Olivet College. Miller’s job was to recruit students, but she would also manage those students throughout their college journey to ensure they stayed on track. Eventually, Miller was promoted to assistant dean of academic affairs, and ran the college’s resource center.
“It never felt like work to me,” Miller said of her job at Olivet. “I loved my job. I can’t even put into words what it did to me. When I left, I cried because I was leaving kids behind that I felt were like my own children.”
In 2015, Miller brought her love and compassion to LCC. She served as an associate dean in Health and Human Services for three years before taking the position of interim dean of student affairs in June of 2018.
“It baffles me because I never liked school, but for 23 years now I’ve worked in education,” Miller said. “When they asked me if I would serve as interim dean of student affairs, I got goosebumps. I almost felt like I was dreaming.”
Now as the dean of Student Affairs, with an office in room 1204 of the Gannon Building, Miller spends most of her days in meetings and doing administrative work. However, she said students are the nucleus of all the work she does.
“It’s a privilege for me each and every day to come to this job and interact with students,” Miller said. “I want them to know that I, and all the people that work in this division, are here to help them achieve their goals. That’s what’s important to me.”
Louc Genda, Miller’s administrative assistant, said Ronda’s devotion to equity is vital for student success.
“What I enjoy most about working with Ronda is her authenticity and commitment to equity in education,” Genda said. “While equality in education grants equal access, every students’ experience is different. Equity in education provides the varying support a student needs to be successful.”
Miller said she wants all students to know that her office has an open-door policy, and she is there to help them succeed.
“I want students to feel like they can come in and say hello … or speak to me about a concern,” Miller said. “That’s important to me, more so than anything else. I’m a regular person and I want students to feel like they can come and talk to me or stop me in the halls if they see me. I love to hear students’ stories and if I can connect them with resources — that’s even better.”
Despite her antipathy for school growing up, Miller took away something she hopes to communicate to LCC students.
“Looking back, the one thing that helped me go to school every day, other than my parents, were my teachers,” Miller said. “I felt like they truly loved me. I could do anything and they would support me and encourage me … they made me believe I could do anything. That’s what I hope to transfer to students.”