Written by David Halstead, Assistant Director, Athletic Communications
Francis women's tennis alum Steph Miller has had a service-minded
attitude for much of her life.
She developed and cultivated that mindset
as a team captain for the Red Flash and now has the opportunity to
share her gifts with the world.
Miller, who graduated in the Spring of 2019 with a major in
International Human Rights (pre-law) and Spanish with a minor in
International Business, has accepted a role working in youth development
with the Peace Corps and will spend the next two years serving in Costa
Rica. She will primarily serve families and youth/children, but also
public schools, community groups and other youth-oriented organizations.
The main responsibilities of her role are to empower youth to make
informed decisions about education, health and lifestyles.
"I was honestly more shocked than excited because I didn't really think I
would receive the invitation to serve," Miller said. "I had not really
prepared myself for an acceptance. Upon accepting the invitation, I
definitely became more excited about the challenge ahead and also
realized the honor of being awarded such an opportunity."
Miller credits the educational experience at Saint Francis with helping
shape her worldview through courses such as Cultural Diversity and
International Law. The University's overarching theme of "Become That
Someone" resonates with Miller as she applies what she learned in the
classroom to the communities that she serves.
"The subject matter forced me to think on an international level about
issues confronting our human race," Miller said. "Now, I am getting the
opportunity to use that knowledge and perhaps even create new knowledge
as I become that someone who strives to shape a better world for those
Following a long and arduous medical clearance and background check,
Miller met her cohort of 36 people, who will be serving in Costa Rica.
Of the group, 15 will serve in youth development, while 21 will work
with Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
"I will stay with a host family for three months while I complete the
mandatory training program," Miller said. "After that time, I will be
placed in the community. I will serve for the next two years and will
begin my life with my new host family there."
Miller added that the language barrier shouldn't present much of a
challenge as she has both classroom knowledge as well as real life
Spanish speaking experience.
"Last summer I spent three months in Bogota, Colombia working for a
human rights organization," Miller said. "Prior to that, I spent one
month in a study-abroad program in Nicaragua. That coupled with many
years of classroom Spanish instruction ensures that I will be able to
hold my own in a Spanish-speaking culture."
Many of her teammates on the tennis team at Saint Francis were also
native Spanish speakers. As a team captain, Miller learned ways to
effectively lead others while balancing her own schedule. Those skills
should prove helpful as she begins a new journey serving others in Costa
"Being a team captain at Saint Francis taught me how to deal with
adversity and be flexible," Miller said." I learned how to manage my
time, as balancing a practice and travel-intensive athletic schedule
with an academic schedule is a skill in itself. I also learned how to
motivate those around me to work towards the common goal of the group.
This entails working with different personalities and attitudes with the
goal of creating a consensus."
Saint Francis women's tennis head coach Lisa Swope
always spoke highly of the type of person and leader Miller was for the
Red Flash. She is confident that the skills that Miller utilized at SFU
will transition well to the Peace Corps.
"I couldn't be prouder as a coach to have a student-athlete take the
path that Steph chose," Swope said. "It's not surprising she joined the
Peace Corps as she is a natural leader and always had compassion for
others, caring so much about how the other players were doing. Steph is a
great example of the ideals of this team, the athletic department and
our university. There's no doubt she will go far helping others."
Miller summed it all up by describing how similar both the mission of
the Peace Corps and the "Become That Someone" theme are and what they
mean to her.
"For me, Become That Someone is a theme that really embodies everything
the Peace Corps stands for, specifically their mission to promote world
peace and friendship," Miller said. "Someone has to be the one to be the
boots on the ground, to be the change that is needed in the world. I
think my daily work will enable me to be that someone."