Kara Miller Talks About Success

By Alexis Ciammbotti ’14

On September 24, 2012, Kara Miller, a graduate of the class of 1996, gave a lecture at Groton primarily about the All School Read, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. As a panelist for the program “Beat the Press” and the host of “Innovation Hub,” Miller has had a great deal of experience as a political analyst. During her lecture, she not only spoke about many of the points from Outliers but also provided insight into the college process, the effects of choosing a school, and her work in the media. Many felt that her lecture was refreshing.

As a younger graduate, it seemed that Miller would connect well with students. Mr. Lamont commented on Miller’s invitation and lecture saying that the school wanted to “try to open up kids’ minds not only in the classroom” but in life outside of school and to “consider the many, many options out there.” Having a career in radio and television broadcasting, Miller could “work on her feet,” he says.

During her presentation, Miller spoke about her time at Groton and her college application process. As a day student, Miller wrote for the Circle Voice and loved watching C-SPAN political events. Still, Miller never thought her interest would materialize into a career. While a Sixth Former at Groton, Miller applied to several schools, though Yale and Wellesley were her favorites. After receiving her acceptance letter to Yale, Miller explained that she was ecstatic and decided to attend the school. But after visiting Yale the summer after Prize Day, Miller realized that she may have made a mistake.

She didn’t know whether it was the size of the school or simply the fact that it was not the right fit for her, but she regretted not having attended Wellesley. She expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to go to Yale but also articulated that it had not been the right school for her. Miller felt that she could have had a more positive experience at another college (like Wellesley). When asked if Yale had heavily affected her present life, Miller said that the colleague working in the cubicle next to her went to Wellesley, so she was unsure as to whether or not her decision had had a profound impact. She did, however, take risks that have affected her current life.

After Yale, Miller decided to pursue a PhD in medieval literature at Tufts University. As a student, she was fascinated by Chaucer’s works but  was not as passionate about the subject as some of her professors and did not want to pursue teaching the subject as a vocation. Instead, Miller was much more enticed by political speeches. All of the spare time that she had spent watching C-SPAN had served a larger purpose. When it was time to write her doctoral thesis, Miller decided to research presidential speeches on the eve of war. But she encountered a roadblock. Her advisor explained to her that she would probably not be employed if she were to make this her thesis. Though it was a serious risk to take, Miller pursued her passion.

Upon graduating from Tufts, Miller wrote for many newspapers including the Boston Globe and the National Journal. She later appeared as a political analyst on television.Though this had been an exciting adventure, Miller realized that people had more of an attention capacity for radio broadcasts than television news. She realized that people would listen to a ten or twenty-minute radio broadcast on their way to work, driving their children to and from school, or simply doing chores around the house. Since joining “Beat the Press”, Miller has interviewed many accomplished people including Professor Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra, and E. J. Dionne.

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