With more than 20 years in the area of experiential education, founding Stanford in New York Program Director Rosina S. Miller holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Folklore and Folklife and has researched, presented, and published on urban social change efforts. She is passionate about cities, urban cultural expression, experiential learning, and helping students integrate their personal, professional, and academic development. An interview with Rosina appears below.
An Interview with Rosina S. Miller
Q: Stanford in New York is proving to be a competitive program in its first year with 50 applicants for 20 slots. What backgrounds, skills and other personal characteristics are you considering most important as you interview students and make final selections?
Rosina: I was very excited by the pool of qualified and enthusiastic applicants. First we looked for academic and extra-curricular activities that showed a sustained interest and link to the themes of this first quarter and for compelling arguments for participation in the program. In particular, we were looking for students with a pioneering spirit who were open and excited to participate in all aspects of the program. We also tried to make room for students who hadn't yet had a chance to participate in as many off-campus programs or opportunities as others. It was a difficult process, but I was thrilled to meet so many students and am very excited to work with our first class!
Q: At the end of the first inaugural quarter this fall, what are you hoping participating students will take away from the experience?
Rosina: In addition to a better understanding of the program's areas of focus, the nature of different fields of work, and the ways one of the world's great cities functions, I really hope students come away with a deeper understanding of themselves, others, and their own passions as they relate to work; a clear focus on the remainder of their academic pursuits; and the knowledge and skills they need to confidently enter the next phase of their lives.
Q: You've now been with the new Stanford in New York program for more than four months. What inspired you to take on leadership of this pilot initiative and what has the experience been like for you both professionally and personally?
Rosina: Reading the job description the day it came into my email from the Chronicle of Higher Education, I felt like the job had been created for me. A long-time experiential learning educator, I had been on the faculty and then executive director of a similar program for undergraduate students in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Center, founded almost 50 years ago by the Great Lakes Colleges Association, was really a ground-breaking model for many programs seeking to provide students with structured internships that connected to their academic learning. I am also the co-founder of a successful charter school in Philadelphia, so the “start-up” nature of the position really appealed to me. In addition, my scholarship and teaching have focused on the arts, urban culture, and social change—all very relevant topics for the curricular focus of Stanford in New York’s inaugural quarter.
What ultimately inspired me was the opportunity to transfer the knowledge, skills, and values I have developed as an educator, scholar, and administrator to a new context and in the process get to learn so much about Stanford University and the city and institutions of New York. It's really a gift that such enriching opportunities are an essential part of this job. Both the faculty and administrators on Stanford's campus and the alumni in New York have been so welcoming, generous, and supportive. I have never seen alumni so devoted to an institution. They are truly excited for this program to come to the city and be a catalyst to support and connect to the younger generation and also participate in the active alumni networks that already exist in the city. My job has just begun, really; but thanks to this wonderful support, we are well on our way to establishing an office, hiring faculty, and cultivating internship partnerships for the students.