COVID Brings Unlikely Opportunity for ACU Student


Not many people can cite something good from the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Elizabeth Miller is an exception. She, like everyone else, would rather the pandemic had never occurred. But it did. And with it came the cancelation of many in-person events. Once that started happening, the word “Zoom” zipped into our vocabulary. And that is what Miller is happy about.

An Abilene Christian University senior from Dallas, Miller was selected as an intern for fall 2020 with the Center for Public Justice, “an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to policy research and civic education,” according to its website. CPJ is located in Washington, D.C., which would be an attractive place to spend a semester for most college students, including Miller. But with two on-campus jobs and a volunteer position with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Miller couldn’t have gone so far away for an entire semester. And then came COVID-19 and CPJ switched its internship experience to Zoom meetings.

“I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity otherwise,” Miller said.

Miller is on track to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in English and minor in public service. With the CPJ internship, she was able to use both. Besides learning more about public service, Miller also used her writing and editing skills with Shared Justice, an initiative of the Center for Public Justice. CPJ sent out publicity on each of its interns, which included quotes from them about their experience. 

“I had no idea how much there was to learn about public justice,” Miller said, “and how it impacts every area of public policy.”

After graduation in May, Miller plans to pursue a master’s degree in English, possibly at ACU. Even if she does seek a master’s degree, Miller learned through her virtual internship experience that the pursuit of public justice will always be a part of her future. 

“That is definitely up my alley,” Miller said.

From left, Elizabeth Miller, Elias Culpepper, and Gloria Atkinson enjoy Winter Lightfest, an annual even benefiting the United Way. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Miller

The internship added to an already busy schedule for Miller. She is a tutor in the writing center and works in Residence Life on campus. Miller also is a member of the W Club for women with at least a 3.5 grade point average and is chief justice of ACU’s Student Government Association Judicial Board. And, Miller is a Big Sister to a 12-year-old girl and volunteers at Redeemer Church. 

Classes resume at ACU on Jan. 11, and Miller is ready to take on her final classes, two jobs, and volunteer positions. At one point she thought about law school but now is more interested in working with Christian-based nonprofits as her career. She has started applying to graduate schools in pursuit of a master’s degree in English and is pursuing freelance policy writing opportunities. 

“I’m just going to kind of see where that goes,” she said. 

Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene

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