Monika Alston-Miller is an advocate for women and families. Alston-Miller has taught at the University of Central Arkansas since 2008 in the Department of Communication, but her range of social and community service spreads much further than UCA’s campus.
Alston-Miller is the first individual in UCA history to receive both the Teaching Excellence Award and the Public Service Award in the same year. She was recognized at the 62nd annual UCA Service Awards Ceremony, which is held at the end of each academic year to honor and recognize faculty and staff.
Alston-Miller is a board member for the City of Hope Outreach Academy, Conway Cradle Care and the Arkansas Breastfeeding Coalition. She also served as interim president and president of the Faulkner County Graduate Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. In addition to her public service, Alston-Miller is a social media advocate for prenatal, infant and postpartum support groups, and she is also a grant writer for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, an organization committed to reducing infant mortality in the African-American community.
When asked what service means to her, Alston-Miller didn’t hesitate to answer. “Service is helping people constantly. It’s not me coming in, trying to fix a problem and going back to my house,” she said. “You have to know the people you want to help and maintain a constant dialogue. You need to ask, ‘What can we do to help you, and how can we be a part of your lives?’ Let people know that we’re here and we aren’t going anywhere.”
Growing up, Alston-Miller was very interested in helping her fellow woman. “I was a candy striper, and I liked being in that environment where I could help people. I was worried I would just be getting coffee, but they always gave me something to do where I could help people,” Alston-Miller said. “I also took a Safe Sitter’s class, so I learned how to help and protect babies at an early age.”
Alston-Miller also volunteered at a rape crisis center before college, which led her to continue to volunteer with an organization called Stealing Home once she started college at the University of Richmond, where she helped victims of sexual assault and taught others how to do the same. “It was life changing for me,” Alston-Miller said. “This was about how to seek proper consent, how to communicate that and help victims of sexual assault.”
Even if she weren’t a professor, Alston-Miller said she would still have the desire for a service outlet. “I’m fortunate to have a job with service built into it. I have a passion for this,” Alston-Miller said. “To me, service is also sitting in my office and mentoring students. I have formal advisees, but I also have informal advisees. We keep pretty busy in the service arena around here, which makes me happy.”