ONE ON ONE | Jennifer C. Miller Center director likes making an impact in lives
What is the most fascinating thing about your job?
The fact that each day is different and the people whose lives we touch is fascinating. You never know the impact that you make in people's lives. I remember students who worked for us during the summer and later would graduate from college and tell us about the impact of working here as a counselor.
We had a grandmother who sent her grandkids here and was so impressed in the change in the kids, she became a volunteer, later an employee and then went on and got her college degree. So, you never know whose life you are going to touch.
What do you like most about the Youngstown area?
I am thinking long and hard because we tend to be negative and look at what's wrong and what needs to be fixed here. I often ask myself why am I still here, but I have some friends who are committed to making a change. There are some good people here, and they want to turn the city around.
Who would you say are your personal heroes and why?
I don't know that I could name one person, but I do look up to my mother. There were five children in my family, and she insisted that we all get college degrees and we all did, but I have other heroes, especially women who I feel have mentored me. I belong to a couple of women's clubs that have provided me with guidance.
Do you have any religious philosophies or beliefs?
Oh yes. I am a Christian, and I believe we all have a purpose in life and we need to find God's purpose for our life, and only when we find that purpose will we be truly happy.
What would you say is your biggest pet peeve?
People who have made it and sold out. I do believe we have people in strategic positions in the city and the county that can make a difference, but sometimes people get into positions of authority and forget about people beneath them. They forget about the changes that need to be made and are content to collect a paycheck and not make a difference.
What types of books do you read in general?
Inspirational books. I am usually a serious person. Even growing up as a child, I was always serious. Some people ask me do I have fun, but I always felt there was work to be done and things to know, so I tend to read inspirational books. I also just read "No Crystal Stair," the story of an African-American family in the 1920s and 30s. Historical fiction and inspirational books are the types of reading I do.
Have your serious personality and outlook played a part in your career choices?
Yes. I taught at YSU and was an administrative director at St. Elizabeth's. I have enjoyed all my jobs. It's not like it's just work, work, work. It is work, but I just enjoy working.
What would you say is your all-time favorite movie?
If I had to pick just one, probably "The Autobiography of Malcolm X."
Where are you most likely to go when you want to get away from everything?
I usually walk around the track at Liberty High School. I am not really an exercise enthusiast, but walking relaxes me, and I find that is a time when I can just meditate.
When you are not working, what will people most likely find you doing?
Probably curled up on a couch reading a book and listening to gospel music.
Who is your favorite gospel artist?
I would have to say Shirley Caesar. I sort of like the old-time gospel music. The older I get, the older type of music I like.
Who would you most want to sit down and have breakfast with?
Firstly Jesus Christ, then the plan for my life would have been clearer earlier in life. Secondly, my grandfather. He was very wise, grew up in the South, very religious and he had so much wisdom. Now that I am older I appreciate that wisdom and wish I could have benefited more from his wisdom and philosophy about life.
What would you consider your favorite area restaurant? In other words, where would you and your grandfather be eating?
Probably Perkins. I like their pancakes, and Rollers has good grits.
What will you likely do when you retire?
I would like to spend time spoiling my grandkids and be a political activist. I would also like to volunteer to work with the Urban League, NAACP and another community center.
In other words, you're not going to actually retire?
There is just too much work to be done.