“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do what you want to do,” is what Madison Miller would say to young girls looking to pursue broadcast journalism as she makes her own childhood dreams a reality.
Miller, a third-year student studying broadcast journalism, always knew that she wanted to be on TV. Like many of us, she wanted to wave a wand, drawing the signature Disney logo. While she might not be the Disney star she always wanted to be, her dreams of ending up on TV are slowly but surely coming true during her time at Penn State.
From Oklahoma to Delaware to New Jersey, Miller moved around throughout her childhood. It was at Seneca High School in New Jersey that she began her story in broadcast journalism through a TV broadcasting class — a class that was originally her last choice.
But what she got out of this class was more than she could have hoped for. With an internship at KYW, an interview with Chris Herren — former Boston Celtics player — and a sideline reporting gig that got her on Channel 13, it’s safe to say that Miller is better off because of her last-choice class. Since then, she discovered a newfound appreciation for broadcast journalism because, for her, it’s the people behind the stories that mean the most.
It gives voices to people that otherwise wouldn’t be heard.
After her parents pushed her to apply to Penn State, Miller did everything she could to ensure she wouldn’t fall behind in making friends, considering she was starting in the fall of 2020. But what really made all the difference in her extracurriculars was an Instagram DM she sent to Penn State Alumni, Hannah Mears, who is now a Big10 Network Sideline Reporter and an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mears told Miller which clubs to get involved with and who to talk to in order for sideline reporting to become a part of her Penn State experience. “She did not have to give me advice on what to do, but she did and she was so nice,” says Miller. It wasn’t long ago that Miller reached out to Mears again to thank her for what she did three years ago — making it a full circle moment as she follows in her footsteps by interviewing NFL Players whenever they make a gameday appearance at Beaver Stadium.
For Miller, putting herself out there paid off. She ended up joining Penn State Sports Night and Penn State Network News along with sideline reporting for Big Ten Network and being a part of the Talent Team for GoPSUSports, where she emcees games and interviews athletes. On top of that, she also landed a digital content internship with Penn State Athletics, where she wrote stories covering basketball, softball, lacrosse and women’s ice hockey. What’s more, is that Miller had the chance to be part of ESPN College Game Day during her freshman year, one of the biggest days in college sports. Not only did this opportunity give her the chance to meet Jen Lada, one of the many figures within the industry she looks up to, but it also allowed her to achieve a goal that she had her eye on for the longest time.
In addition to becoming so involved, so quickly at Penn State, Miller also did something that you rarely hear students attempt these days — start her own club. Along with Kennedy Kollar, a third-year student majoring in broadcast journalism, Miller started the Nittany Lion Red Carpet Network last August. This is a broadcast journalism club that allows students to gain experience in covering entertainment and pop culture, something that Miller and Kollar found was missing within the 1000+ clubs on campus. The process behind founding a club can be grueling. It took an entire semester of approvals from faculty within the college of communications to get their idea up and running — but for Miller, it was all worth it in the end.
When asked what the future of the Nittany Lion Red Carpet Network looks like, Miller gleamed from ear to ear. On top of adding new executive positions and forming a partnership with another club, PSN TV, Miller says, “we’re just hoping to get a lot of younger students involved — to give them that on-air experience to teach them telecommunications,” and what really goes into producing a show.
While it may seem that Miller had no trouble accomplishing so much in three years in addition to graduating an entire year early, it didn’t come without its challenges. On top of starting college in the middle of a pandemic, Miller is immunocompromised, so taking time for herself is something she has slowly but surely integrated into her routine.
“So what I’ve been doing, is when I don’t feel good, I’ll take the day off,” says Miller. “I’ll say no when I know I’m not okay,” and she will take the day to recharge with her rest day staples — a heating pad, tidying her space and her favorite Netflix shows.
Despite the challenges that have come with Miller’s journey, whether it was an illness, imposter syndrome or the fear of ending college too early, it’s her love for people’s stories that keep her going, and will continue to do so beyond her college career.