Alumna Spotlight: Markeisha Miner '99. At Mount Holyoke, "I learned to speak with the courage of my convictions without drowning others out."

February 18, 2016 at 2:00 PM

MarkeishaMinerAs a student at Mount Holyoke, Markeisha Miner '99 majored in African/African American studies with a concentration on history and politics, but she gained far more than an excellent education here. She knew that the minute she first walked on campus, her life was forever changed.

What's the greatest lesson you learned while at MHC? At Mount Holyoke, I knew I could be whoever I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted and dreamed of doing. Over the years, whenever I need to come back to my center, I think about the young woman I wanted to be, and started to become at Mount Holyoke—the goals and aspirations I formed there—because that is where I learned to find my own voice. I learned to speak with the courage of my convictions without drowning others out.

As an example, during the spring of 1997, early in President Creighton's tenure, I was one of the students who vocally protested the proposed reductions to the Office of Religious Life and the lack of cultural housing space. I learned that, even in the midst of principled, passionate protest, I could learn from and respect people on the opposite side of an issue, while fully hearing their points of view. President Creighton later called that "passionate commitment with dispassionate analysis"—a lesson I applied daily when I was a practicing attorney and that I still rely on now as a law school administrator.

What's your favorite spot on campus? As a student, my favorite place was the garden behind the greenhouse that has the sundial and the wooden stairs that lead up to Reese (even before those stairs were so beautifully renovated!). Every time I return to campus, I make time to walk through that space. I always find serenity there.

Was there a moment you knew your life was forever changed? The minute I walked on campus as a prospective student. When I saw the t-shirt project on the green to raise awareness about domestic violence, met the then-first year student who had just published her own poetry anthology, and saw all of the student organizations in Blanchard, I knew not only that MHC was the school for me, but that my life would be different for having gone there.

What are your top 5 favorite things about MHC?
1. The lifelong friendships that began on campus.
2. The network of alumnae of which I'm so proud to be a part.
3. The collegial relationships I cultivated with faculty and staff, who still take an interest in my life and work, even 16 years after graduation.
4. The breathtakingly beautiful campus.
5. The fact that the most interesting, challenging, and rewarding conversations I have are more often than not with other MHC women.

Markeisha earned her B.A., magna cum laude, at Mount Holyoke College and her J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School. She joined Cornell Law School on July 1, 2015 as Dean of Students. Previously, she served as Assistant Dean of Career Services and Outreach at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, practiced as a commercial litigator in Dickinson Wright PLLC’s Detroit office, and clerked for the Honorable Anna Diggs Taylor on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She is an active MHC alumna and served as the alumna admissions representative for the Detroit area from 2002-2015, a Black History Month Speaker in 2015, and on the planning committees for the 2012 and 2015 Black Alumnae Conference.

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