Rachael Miller ’15, Biology
Her experiences as a student at Becker College helped Rachael Miller ’15 gain the confidence to push past her comfort zone—and ultimately led to a career she didn’t always envision for herself, but truly loves.
Miller came to Becker from Bethlehem, Penn., and immersed herself in campus life. Over the course of her time at Becker she was a resident assistant, a peer tutor, an orientation leader, a member of the equestrian team, a first year course assistant, and the senior class president for 2015. She was also involved organizations, including the Campus Activities Board and the Gay Straight Alliance, now known as PRIDE.
During the summer of 2014, Miller landed an internship at Urban Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc., in Springfield, Mass., where she cared for various wildlife species from the Springfield area, including raccoons, skunks, opossums, and squirrels. “Not only did I learn about the environmental causes that contribute to these animals losing their homes and how to prevent that from happening, I also learned how to care for them at various ages,” she said.
As her campus life expanded, so did her self-assurance; as her experiences varied, her interests started to shift. “My whole life I imagined I would be a veterinarian,” Miller said. “I started at Becker as a Pre-Veterinary Science major. Then I began to second-guess my decision and I changed my major to Biology.”
Miller now works as a laboratory technician in the Endocrinology Department at UMass Medical School in Worcester, where she studies the genetic basis of neurodegenerative disorders—specifically, Huntington’s Disease, which affects muscle coordination and leads to mental decline—and works to determine how to arrest or reverse their progression. She is responsible for weaning and genotyping all the lab’s mice, conducting behavioral analyses on Huntington’s mouse models, and is also working on several projects that require a range of experimentation and data analysis.
“I always enjoyed science more than any other subject,” Miller said. “I’m a very inquisitive person. I like to know how things work and if they don’t, I want to know why. Biology is such a vast field, open to so many opportunities. Many of the core science classes I took at Becker gave me a great foundation for biomedical research. I use that knowledge on a daily basis at work.” Miller noted she is intrigued by the way one thing leads to another in biology, and that scientists in the field are constantly learning and progressing.
Miller is currently in the process of preparing to apply for graduate programs, and hopes to eventually earn her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences or a related field. Overall, she plans to continue working in research—a field she never thought she’d enjoy until she attended Becker. “I took classes I never thought I would, did internships I never thought I would, and even got involved on campus with many things I never thought I would,” Miller said. “This all led me along an amazing path and into a fulfilling and enjoyable career. I can confidently say I would not be where I am today without Becker.”