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Beverly Miller receives the College’s Commitment to Diversity Award

Beverly Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor of elementary science education, was named the 2021 recipient of the Georgia Southern University College of Education’s (COE) Commitment to Diversity Award.

A science teacher for over 30 years, Miller joined the College in 2018 where she has been able to share both her research on minorities in STEM as well as her own experiences as an Afro Caribbean immigrant female with future teachers at the University.

“My career initiatives have focused on the access and inclusion for marginalized groups that included those of African descent, Latinx heritage and Native Americans through educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and career pathways,” explained Miller. “All students regardless of race need to be exposed to a curriculum that incorporates counter narratives so that knowledge production reflects all people. These counter narratives remove the prevailing belief that those who are excluded are absent because they have not made noteworthy contributions; this is a misconception.”

Miller’s research and service are often interwoven, as she provides  alternative learning opportunities through STEM camps and field experiences for minority students. In 2017, she developed Ventaja Panama, offering place-based, hands-on STEM education to Panamanian youth and local teachers while also ensuring that the students’ basic needs were met. Since the success of the first camp, Miller has reached over 300 students in Panama over the last four years, and held the first United States based Ventaja Camp on the Georgia Southern Statesboro Campus this summer where some students were able to experience a college campus. Students visited the University’s museum, participated in experiments in the chemistry lab and dined with members of the Georgia Southern football team.

Miller has published book chapters and articles based on the inclusive education model for the Panama-based camps as well as personal reflections of “walking in two worlds” where she considers her Panamanian identity as well as her American educational opportunities. In her personal story, she shares that in the 1960’s a religious group visiting Panama offered her uncle an opportunity to fund his education in the United States.

“This one event would shift the socio-economic trajectory for our entire family,” she said. “My grandmother later came to the United States. Employed as a domestic worker, she saved her money and sent for my mother and me. I was six years old. I have received all of my education in the United States. Today, I hold a terminal degree, a Ph.D., in my field. My work as a social justice advocate is how I acknowledge this privilege and work to pay it forward.”

Her research has also been acknowledged as advancing the conversation on race and gender, as she was one of six authors whose articles were selected by SAGE Open (an open access, peer-reviewed, academic journal published by SAGE Publications) as a national resource for the racial discourse taking place after the murder of George Floyd and resulting national protests.  

“My work both locally and abroad continues to challenge structures of privilege and educational access rooted in assumptions regarding race and socio-economic power,” she said. “This, I believe, is the work of us all, so I am humbled by your recognition of what I believe is my reason for being.”

The College’s Commitment to Diversity Award was designed to recognize a faculty or staff member who demonstrates a sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion. Visit Inclusive Excellence in COE for more information on the Commitment to Diversity Award.


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