In 7th grade, Dr. Michelle Miller-Day wrote as part of an assignment that she wanted to become a college professor. Her teacher at the time informed her that, “College professors are almost all men, sweetie. Why don’t you think about being a kindergarten teacher?” This comment could have easily deterred Dr. Miller-Day from a career in academia. Instead, it hardened her resolve to be an educator in higher education.
Dr. Miller-Day completed her Ph.D. in Human Communication at Arizona State University and now serves as a Professor of Communication Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Communication Studies. In the Fall of 2015, Dr. Miller-Day won the NCA’s Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship for Distinguished Service in Family Communication.
“Psst! Her 7th grade teacher should be eating crow somewhere about now!”
The Dark Side
Dr. Miller-Day enjoys being a professor because it gives her the opportunity to discuss topics she is passionate about in addition to interacting and forming relationships with the students in her classes. One of her classes is called “The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication,” which covers the negative aspects of communication between individuals. The class includes “fish bowl” discussions that push students out of their comfort zones. In these discussions, a small group of students sits in a circle in the middle of the room while the whole class sits around them. The group discusses a specific topic or issue relating to the course material and other students are able to join the discussion by switching places with students in the circle. Dr. Miller-Day utilizes this method because it encourages students to grasp concepts in a conversational manner.
Dr. Miller-Day is also passionate about her mother-daughter communication research. Dr. Miller-Day has conducted research in areas including mother-daughter communication, drug prevention and community-based participatory research. Each of these emphases has inspired her to further explore her passions. Her research in mother-daughter communication, specifically, served as an inspiration for a course on the topic in the Communication Studies department at Chapman.
She Still Uses Her Theatre Major
In addition to her successful career as a professor and researcher, Dr. Miller-Day also holds the entertainment industry close to her heart. When she isn’t dedicating her time to academia, she can be found doing acting work on the side, such as voiceovers and commercials. Her bachelor’s degree was in communication studies, but she has a M.F.A. in theatre, too, and has continued her passion for the entertainment industry throughout her life.
What Students Should Know
So how can Chapman students perform well in Dr. Miller-Day’s classes? She has great advice.
“Do the readings. Show up. Be curious. Actively participate. Ask questions. Challenge ideas.”
Dr. Miller-Day also stressed that she wants students to engage their critical thinking rather than just focusing on memorizing the answers for the tests. Dr. Miller-Day cares that her students understand the concepts being taught in order to perform well in the course and use that learning in their future careers.
Dr. Miller-Day is an impassioned researcher and an engaging professor. Students who have taken her courses report that these courses taught them much and that what they learned has helped them in their daily personal and work lives.