For as long as she can remember, Danica Sterud Miller has wanted to be a “teacher of books” at the university level. In fact, the voracious reader knew little of what it meant to become a professor when she first set the goal in fourth grade. But she kept her eye on the prize and after more than 10 years pursuing her Masters degree and doctorate – all while raising a family and teaching at East Coast colleges – she has officially made her dream a reality, and then some.
“I do not even know where the idea came from,” she laughed. “I didn’t even know anything about teaching at the college level, but I guess it was always a love of reading that kept me on the right path.”
Danica earned her Ph.D. in English Literature in July from Fordham University in Bronx, NY.
After teaching at private language schools throughout Europe for several years, she dove full speed ahead into her academic career, teaching courses in literature, composition and rhetoric and film. Many courses feature Native American authors, filmmakers and more. “The Native American literature field is expanding, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” she noted.
Sterud/Miller department chair even asked her to design a new course focused on Pacific Northwest tribes and their traditions. Although she was skeptical at first about how the course would be received by students on the East Coast, so far removed from the northwest, she was pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest. “The class was completely full, and students were eager to learn more about northwest tribes,” she said.
She has taught at the University of Connecticut and Fordham University, as well as Western Washington University as a teaching assistant.
Sterud/Miller especially thanks the Puyallup Tribal Council as well as its Higher Education Department for supporting her throughout her 14 years of higher education to get to where she is today. “The Tribe is always there for me, and I know there are so many amazing things they have done in the past and this is only one small thing – but it has been an incredible, life-changing experience for me,” she said. “I hope to one day give back to the Tribe in some way.”