Born and raised just outside Toledo in the small town of Maumee, Ohio, Audrey Miller ’20 knew that being engaged in community development was always going to be her top priority. After declaring her double major in political science and international relations in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Miller has been very active in the community building and civic engagement space on and off campus at Syracuse University.
When asked about how she decided to start dabbling into social entrepreneurship, Miller explained, “I feel like I’ve always been interested in nonprofit or governmental work. Ever since I got involved with awesome organizations working both locally and internationally, I realized that the word ‘community’ is much, much bigger than I am. And that’s why it’s our responsibility to not only educate but also empower the communities we live in.”
Back in 2014, Miller got involved with United for Uganda, a nonprofit organization that sponsors education programs for Ugandan children, especially those who are orphans, who comes from big families, and those who have HIV/AIDs. It is the vulnerable communities like the ones United for Uganda that got Miller thinking there’ has to be more she could do right at home in Maumee. She then started a chapter for the nonprofit at her own high school, and organized fundraisers and information sessions to raise awareness in her community.
When she arrived in Syracuse, she quickly joined Thrive Projects; a nonprofit organization that was grew in the Blackstone LaunchPad. Seeing Thrive’s mission of supporting community development projects around the world through customized vocational training, Miller knew she had come to the right place. A year later, she co-founded Thrive at SU, a registered student organization that works to bridge the gap between the SU student body and the local Syracuse community by collaborating with nonprofits in the area. Wherever she goes, Miller is constantly looking for ways to give back to the environment and the people in it.
Miller and the Thrive at SU team is hard at work putting together the final touches of the Thrive Together Fair, an interactive cultural event that features performances and speakers from across campus and the local community in a day that celebrates the diversity of Syracuse. The event will take place on Saturday, March 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and community members and Syracuse University students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome.
In the fall of 2018, Miller will step into the role of President of Thrive at SU, and she hopes to continue staying involved with the Syracuse community, especially with marginalized groups. She believes that only by starting a conversation, and celebrating our differences, can we cross the barrier of misunderstanding and miscommunication together, and #ThriveTogether.
Photo and story by Amanda Chou ‘18, Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow.