The deadline to apply for the Hudnut Scholarship in Public Leadership is March 1. To apply for this or any scholarship, visit this link.
Zion Miller is focused on leaving a legacy for future generations through public service. In between taking classes at O’Neill, Miller spent much of the fall 2020 semester writing news releases, running social media accounts, and working on projects for Indianapolis’ Department of Metropolitan Development.
That work was part of an internship through the Hudnut Scholarship in Public Leadership—a scholarship awarded to an O’Neill IUPUI undergraduate student, with preference given to a student majoring in Policy Studies, Civic Leadership, or Sustainable Management and Policy. Recipients must show a history of affecting change in the community before they can begin their internship with the city of Indianapolis.
Miller certainly fits that bill, having served as president of the Black Student Union and Junior Sexuality Alliance in high school. Even an internship with Americorps in Marion County makes an appearance on a lengthy list of accomplishments. During that time, Miller worked at a low-income sexual health clinic that provided testing for both sexually transmitted infections and COVID-19. In 2020, Miller volunteered locally with Meals on Wheels in Indianapolis, packing 2,000 meals each week to feed people in need.
“I knew I wanted to make an impact in this world, and I want to do that as my career,” Miller says. “If you are able to balance your passion for service outside the classroom and your academics inside the classroom, the Hudnut Scholarship would be a good way to bring those together.”
While COVID-19 changed how the internship operated in 2020 compared with previous years, Miller’s work included increasing awareness of redevelopment along the Monon Trail and encouraging recognition of Native American Heritage Month.
“I’ve gotten to meet incredible leaders in our city and hear their career paths,” Miller says. “The insight I’ve gotten from them has been amazing and I don’t take that for granted.”
Working with DMD wasn’t the only political encounter Miller has had recently. In the months leading up to the November elections, Miller worked with RISE Indy—an education advocacy organization—to speak with voters about school board candidates for Indianapolis Public Schools. After the election, those efforts helped usher in four new IPS school board members.
With such a breadth of experiences, the O’Neill Media and Publics Affairs major wants to pursue a career that blends marketing, communications, and politics. In spring 2021, that opportunity came knocking: a communications internship at the Indiana Statehouse with the Senate Democrats.
Gaining career skills through these experiences is important to Miller—but so is simply being in the room and opening doors for future and more diverse generations.
“I’m a Black, nonbinary person and there aren’t too many Black nonbinary people working in the city,” Miller says, with a chuckle. “I think me showing up and having a seat at the table has made an impact.”
But the primary focus, Miller stresses, was always about making the city better as a whole—that is what’s at the heart of public service.
“Students who want to apply for the Hudnut Scholarship need to showcase that they’re here for everyone,” Miller explains. “No matter your background, come prepared to expand your viewpoints and explore the different perspectives of fellow Indianapolis residents.”
Miller has a clear passion for making a difference in Indiana. A native Hoosier, Miller attended high school in Northern Virginia before the family returned to its Indianapolis roots in 2018.
“Coming back home to Indiana and realizing how much progress needs to be made—there’s just a lack of exposure,” Miller explains. “Knowing that we can do better, that there is better, and that people deserve better.”
For Miller, paying attention to a legacy means working to ensure those who come behind you have more opportunities and an even better seat at the table you did—it’s an investment in the future that Miller is willing to make.
“I want to do the work of understanding our rural areas as well and seeing how we can shift the state toward a different future,” Miller says, smiling. “I know that Indiana is more than what people make it out to be. I think everyone here deserves to see that there is more.”