Five years ago, I ended my 35-year career in daily newspaper journalism as an editorial writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh. My husband, Ed Miller, had been called out of military retirement to a job in Army readiness at the Pentagon and our daughter, then a junior at N.C. State, was more than capable of living at home with the dog and two cats. So for four years, I free-lanced in D.C., wrote a novel, and traveled back to Raleigh once a month or so. When the Army found a need for Ed at Ft. Bragg, we moved back home and the MALS program opened the opportunity for me to (finally) work on a master’s degree.
The program fit me perfectly. My alma mater had to go into its archives to find my transcript but MALS didn’t require that I pass the GRE. I was most interested in recapturing some facility with Spanish, and MALS lets me earn graduate credit for related courses while I audit undergraduate Spanish without additional charge. Writing editorials in recent years taught me how little I know about our neighbors in Latin America and how much understanding is required in this era of global trade and immigration. At this stage of my life, I am finding purpose in fighting poverty in Honduras, from where many immigrants come to North Carolina in search of a decent livelihood their homeland doesn’t offer them.
Last May, I traveled to Honduras to work at a new college started by an inspiring friend I made in D.C. I figured to teach English, learn Spanish, and search for a culminating project related to some research I had done in food insecurity. When I got there, though, the problem I encountered was a lack of clean water
that was making students and staff sick. So the paper I wrote for independent study credit, with the help of my advisor Dr. Richard Slatta of the History Department, was about Honduras’s problems with water supply going back to the collapse of the Mayan civilization. He and a longtime MALS backer, Dr. Robert Patterson of the Crop Science Department, have agreed to guide me through a final project that will offer workable solutions that Hondurans can do for themselves. MALS has already opened my eyes in many important ways, but I’m awed by how much there is to learn – enough for millions of lifetimes and plenty for the one that belongs to me. I’m fortunate to have a supportive husband and daughter, who understand that when Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy!
You can read Carol’s commencement speech about the importance of lifelong interdisciplinary learning on the MALS website