Living Up to a Legacy

October 1, 2008
Miller: Alumni scholar follows in father's footsteps.

Miller: Alumni scholar follows in father's footsteps. Megan Morr

Arriving home from a short vacation with her mother, Catherine Miller walked into her house, dropped her bags, and checked messages on the answering machine. One was from Carole LeVine '86, director of the alumni admissions program of the Duke Alumni Association (DAA), checking to make sure Miller had received a FedEx package. Ripping open the seal, Miller found a letter informing her she had been admitted to Duke's Pratt School of Engineering and selected as the DAA Alumni Endowed Undergraduate Scholar.

"My mom and I jumped up and down in my kitchen and screamed in excitement," recalls Miller.

Even though her mother graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she adds, "I could just tell that she wanted me to end up here. She's always loved Duke as well."

Miller becomes the third person in her family to attend Duke. Her father, Andy Miller '73, M.Ed. '79, is a journalist with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and her brother, John Miller '05, is a researcher and writer for Urban Land magazine.

Despite campus visits to stay with her brother, Miller says her view of Duke changed once she began to see herself as a prospective student. "I wanted a school that has a strong engineering program, because right now I'm leaning toward civil engineering.

"But I also wanted a place that offered a range of really strong programs, in case I decide not to pursue engineering. Duke has so many stellar academic departments that I knew I couldn't go wrong."

Miller attended St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta, where she was a staff writer for the school newspaper and editor of the literary magazine, Carpe Diem. She was also active in the school's theater organization, performing in a number of musicals and comedies, including West Side Story, Oklahoma!, and What the Bellhop Saw.

At Duke, she plans to explore her dramatic options through Hoof 'n' Horn, and her creative-writing talents through extracurricular opportunities. Ultimate Frisbee is also a lure, if time allows. With a first-semester course load that includes chemistry, engineering, and calculus classes, plus their attendant labs, Miller says her main focus at first will be "getting acclimated to college."

Most important, she adds, "I'm really hoping to live up to the Duke name."