WONDER-WOMAN: GABBY MILLER
This week the world is celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) to forge a better world that is gender inclusive. As an advocate for gender parity, I stand in solidarity with IWD leaders and their mission for eradicating conscious and unconscious biases, promoting gender-balanced leadership and encouraging girls and women to dream big.
I started my Wonder-Woman series as a way to show the online community that there are women, young and old, with limitless potential (you can read last month's "Wonder-Woman: Dorothy Jones" here). This month we are celebrating Gabby Miller's amazing self-journey and the barriers she had to overcome.
Gabby is a dear friend and teammate of mine. She is a student at Vassar College' 17 and co-founder at Boilerplate Magazine, Vassar's Alternative News Source. Check out my Interview with her down below:
What is your birthplace/hometown?
My mom pushed me out of her vagina in Newport Beach. Then she raised me in Phoenix, Arizona. I hope she never sees this interview now.
What is your major?
I'm a Women's Studies major with a concentration in Queer Studies.
List three facts most people do not know about you.
I can pick my nose with my absurdly long tongue.
I got kicked out of my house for being Queer, with a capital Q.
I'm allergic to pineapple.
Where do you see yourself immediately after graduation?
As of late, and people probably aren't going to be very impressed with this, I see myself working in a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or something making hourly wages.
Post-graduation jobs can be pretty binding for about two years, to the point where future employers and hiring staffs will chalk leaving a company "early" up to a lack of commitment or loyalty. I just don't know what I want to do yet and I've never given myself a time to develop my artistic sensibilities. I have a million and one things I'm entirely capable of doing, and all these opportunities just laid out right before me, but I need to figure out what impassions me, what makes me want to get out of bed each morning.
I've had jobs that paid the bills but also made me miserable. I don't want to be miserable for the next two years.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself in a creative position. Sometimes I like to imagine myself working on an influential magazine or online site. You know, like iD or Paper Magazine. Other times, I see myself in a graduate program, doing something like media management at the New School or going abroad to study design and technology.
When I did an internship in academic publishing last summer, I realized for the first time just how important creative expression was for me and how much I've taken that for granted within my education. Even though I'm a Women's Studies major, and most people would be like "there's zero creativity in that," I'd argue otherwise. When I write essays for class, a huge amount of creative license goes into theory building, especially since my field of study is inextricably linked to my identity – a Queer, femme. I can't conceptualize doing work and being happy, without somehow incorporating creativity.
What are your extracurricular activities? What hobbies do you enjoy the most?
Besides Boilerplate, I'm also an editor for Vassar's Fashion magazine, Contrast and I play Varsity DIII collegiate volleyball.
Consuming media is my favorite pastime – I waste 75% of my day on Instagram and Snapchat, reading online articles, and listening to the radio/podcasts. I start my day with WNYC and various podcasts like 2 Dope Queens, Radiolab and Modern Love.
Journaling is huge for me. I roughly practice bullet journaling, which you need to look up *now* if you don't know what that is. Seriously, now. Stop reading and do it. I think my compulsion for journaling stems from my desire to record time, and not just the passage of it but the accompanying perceptions that are lost as time is traversed.
Oh – I also love sleeping. Academia is incredibly isolating and takes an enormous emotional toll, so sleep is my self-care.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
My grandmothers have had a tremendous impact on my life. They took me in when I had no place to go. They showed me what unconditional love looked like in practice, taught me how to love myself and be my best friend. They also showed me the strength and resiliency of femmes despite how consistently undervalued we are in this society.
My grandmothers have been through the ringer and somehow manage to be the happiest people I've ever met. I hope to be at least half the type of woman they embody.
Do you have any regrets in life? What is one piece of advice you would give young adults that are in college now or have recently graduated?
I don't have many regrets. I think my piece of advice is not to waste time regretting things. Stay being critical and self-reflective and committed to personal growth, but always look forward, not back.
What is your life's motto? Do you have a favorite saying?
Love yourself. The relationship you're in with yourself should always be the first and most important.
LIFE OF A CO-FOUNDER & BOILERPLATE DETAILS
What was the original idea behind Boilerplate?
Boilerplate was created to fill a niche in the Vassar community we saw at the time. Back in 2014, before many of my generation had deemed it "irrelevant," Facebook was gaining power and momentum for its ability to be used as a political platform en masse. People were able to construct very politicized digital personas simply by sharing articles or crafting nuanced, critical, and well-formed thoughts through Facebook statuses. I'd say it was the main vessel through which I came to political consciousness.
Vassar students, of course, caught wind of this. However, the insights that many of the most brilliant people I'll probably ever meet were only reaching as far as their Facebook networks. We wanted the work of our peers to be reaching far and wide, to other faculty members and students in different social groups.
Cecilia Graña-Rosa ‘15, Lanbo Yang ‘15, and I all sat down at the all-campus dining hall one afternoon, got our computers out, and started brainstorming over burnt coffee and shared Google docs. The rest is history.
What drives Boilerplate?
Boilerplate is one of the most challenging, long-term projects I have ever worked on. When students are overcommitted, overworked and we're not paying them anything, it's hard to get content published. There have been moments when I wanted to walk away from it all, where the amount of stress didn't seem worth it to me. Thank God I stuck with it. Personally, what drives Boilerplate for me is how many brilliant people I not only get to work with and get to know, but whose work I get to have a hand in helping showcase and expanding their audiences.
What role do you play at Boilerplate?
My official title is Co-Founder and Co-Editor-In-Chief. More broadly, I do media management. I hold people accountable to deadlines, organize projects and collaborations, connect individuals and organizations, assist with rounds of edits, and do a lot of networking. I feel like these are all expected roles of a Co-EIC. However, I've also worked on really intense stories where I was supposed to be on call for days at a time assisting with the emotional well-being of writers that released content that made them vulnerable.
I do a lot of damage control – as in literally scrolling through Yik Yak back in the day to shut down potentially harmful and triggering comments towards writers. I've interviewed (and probably made extremely nervous) a few administrators. I've scanned through Legal websites and spoken with lawyers for days at a time for stories that could potentially get us in trouble for slander or libel. I've had to leave in the middle of class when our website server crashed after an article went viral nationally. I've dragged tables across buildings to make a spot for Boilerplate at Vassar Org Fairs. I've fronted hundreds of dollars out of my shallow, financially independent pockets to keep this publication alive.
All this only skims the surface of my role because I feel like I'm constantly on-call, living and breathing Boilerplate to keep it afloat (along with my other current Co-Editor-In-Chief, Faith Hill, shout out to all the sleepless nights she's given this publication).
What do you look for in a story?
As a Co-Editor-In-Chief, I hardly seek stories. Most of the stories I know about or work on directly are in the sections I oversee or because they've grown larger than an editor can take on alone. Personally, the stories I want to see published are the ones that illuminate new ways of thinking or imagine different futures than the ones most frequently discussed. I recognize that having an original thought in an age of information overload is nearly impossible, and I don't just like stories that go "against the grain" for the sake of being different.
The stories that always stick with me are the ones that weren't drowned out in a sea of similar voices. It is scary to go against what our peers think, especially when Facebook can feel like a 24/7 talk-back, but ultimately that's how both readers and writers grow.
Can you tell my readers about any upcoming projects?
I know we've talked about wanting to host an event or exhibit that features past works, sort of like a Boilerplate Retrospective, alongside future creative works. These events could have poetry readings, performance art, visual art, article readings and author Q&As, and beyond this list as a way to connect across graduating classes.
For a lot of the younger folks, they've only known a Vassar where Boilerplate exists, and it's less transgressive for them. For my class and alumni that I went to school with, Boilerplate was at one point disruptive, challenging the media status quo on our campus. I want to keep that spirit alive by doing events like this.
Are that any other facets of Boilerplate that are unique?
We're unique in that we adapt to the demands of the student body and circumstances. We actively try to keep all of you at the forefront of our work so giving students what they want to see is how that's carried out. I don't think people realize how open we are to collaboration – all it takes is an idea, a well-thought out pitch and a realistic understanding of the time involved. I want to see this year more students taking advantage of our established digital platform as a way to showcase their work in a uniquely catered way.
If you are interested in sharing your story with Boilerplate and/or Gabby, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a letter to:
124 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
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Until Next Time,
“Your life is happening now. Make it amazing!”