Wadrian Miller ’20 described as Lander University’s “Unicorn”
Friday, Mar 26, 2021

Wadrian MillerLander University is known for producing high quality, ready-to-teach educators, and Wadrian Miller ’20 is no exception.

Miller began her journey at Lander as a nursing major. Early in her college career, she was questioning if nursing was what she truly wanted to study. Miller credits Dr. Lillian Craton, director of Lander's Honors College and professor of English, as the first person to encourage her to pursue teaching.

“I had wanted to do it, but never pursued it because everyone always said you should be a nurse, or you should be a doctor since you’re smart,” said Miller.

Through chemistry classes required by the nursing curriculum, Miller found a subject she loved. Craton encouraged her to join the new chemistry education program, which led to Miller switching her course of studies from Nursing to Chemistry Education.

That love of chemistry, and education in general, was a driving factor in her decision to switch. “Right now, considering circumstances, especially with COVID-19, science, technology, engineering and math is almost like the way of the future,” she said.

Miller said she wanted to teach high school because “when we look at the older kids, a lot of people don’t want to teach in high school. I knew that I wanted to help students that were older who were probably in a transition of growing into a young adult, but also needed someone to advocate for students in the 15 to 18 age group as they transition out of high school.”

While she was just beginning her student teaching assignment, Miller had multiple job offers in hand. She accepted an offer to teach chemistry at Richland Northeast High School in the Richland II School District of Columbia.

"Miller is a unicorn,” commented Dr. David Gardner, professor of chemistry. “I mean that in the most heartfelt and sincere way,” he said. “Getting new teachers that are both knowledgeable about science and qualified to walk directly into the classroom is rare, like a unicorn.”

Her first year of teaching began in the fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning a career fresh out of college is difficult enough without dealing with a global pandemic, but Miller said that she felt prepared because of her “teacher toolbox.” The toolbox is a concept Dr. Susan Fernandez, chair and associate professor of the Department of Teacher Education, and director of Teaching Fellows for the College of Education often talked about. “I feel like my toolbox has become an arsenal of resources,” said Miller.

With a toolbox that has already become an arsenal within her first year in the classroom, Miller is a recent example of Lander’s excellent teachers, ready to prepare younger generations for the future.