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Justin Miller

Coming from the small town of Whitewright, about an hour from Oklahoma, Justin Miller thought he might feel overwhelmed at UT Dallas. That wasn’t the case, however.

After transferring to UT Dallas from Collin County Community College, where he earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice, Miller says his biggest challenge is finding out where everything is on the University’s 500-acre campus.

“It’s a lot less stressful than I expected. I thought I was going to get humbled, but the teachers make it easier than I’d expected,” Miller said.

He picked UT Dallas because it has a nationally renowned criminology program and it’s convenient to McKinney, where he lives with his uncle.

“I kinda just lucked out,” he said.

Luck has played only a small role in his academic journey. Miller is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society, and was vice president of his Phi Beta Kappa honor society chapter at his community college.

His career choice was inspired by his father’s work as a police officer.

“It was his dream. Watching him growing up, it was something I admired and wanted to get into myself, and go beyond what even he achieved,” Miller said. “I’m the first in my family to get a college degree.”

He admits that popular culture has also shaped his career goals.

“I’ve always thought of criminology as an exciting field to go into. Every TV show and movie seemed to focus on it. Criminal Minds was a big one. Even The X-Files. I just want to do something good for the public.”

Eventually, he hopes to work for a federal agency, such as the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration.

Miller has a few tips for other transfer students who want to have a smooth transition to college life: get to know academic advisors and other students. And relax.

“Take a deep breath. Everything works out better than what your mind tells you,” he said. “Take the advice from the advisors. They know what they’re talking about. Listen to other students. Experience is knowledge.”