If you thought you spotted an Indian, a Telugu at that, amidst the crowds around US Presidential Hillary Clinton during her appearances, chances are you are right. That attractive and comptent Indian is Aruna Miller, the first Telugu woman to be serving in the United States politics.
Aruna was elected to represent the 15th Legislative District in the Maryland House of Delegates in 2010. She serves on the Ways and Means Committee where she sits on the Revenue, Transportation and Education sub-committees. Daughter of an immigrant, Aruna’s journey is inspiring to many immigrants who step on the land of immigration in a hope to make it big.
“I believe in engaging communities. That is what democracy is. There are several issues that I deal with from drinking water to funding for the schools. In every step of mine, I remember that, I am serving people and I need to act in the best interest of the public. Success is making others’ dreams and goals come true”, says Aruna.
As the US is still struggling to have its first woman president, representatives like Aruna have opportunities to serve the public. “It’s been a journey of 14 years as a volunteer and as an elected representative. I signed up as a democrat and started volunteering in the office a decade ago. I volunteered for almost four years. Then there was an open position and I was approached to contest”, says Aruna who was skeptical to enter the mainstream politics as a candidate. “I stepped back and that’s when my husband boosted my confidence saying that if I win, I will get the opportunity to represent USA and India. If I lose, I will still be a volunteer and continue my activities. I took it up as a challenge and nominated myself. Amazingly, my community supported me. I ran in the primary where we were six democrats competing for three open posts. Then, I made it to the top three during general elections and won the post. It was exhilarating as I had the opportunity to give back to this country which gave me the education and life”.
Not to forget, Indians represent just 1% in the US politics though they are in good number in science in technology. Indian women in US politics are a rare phenomenon. “I take pride in saying I belong to both USA and India. You can see, I still speak good Telugu”, smiles Aruna whose undeterred energy is now seen in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Aruna believes women bring a much-needed different perspective when they become leaders. “Women are in the minority in leadership roles take up issues such as child care and reproductive rights, will get the priority.”A win for her (Hillary) is a win for all women,” she says.
Working in US politics is a challenge by itself. “When I walk into the office, I walk with confidence. I make sure; my voice is heard and is strong as any other representative. There are definitely many things that I don’t know. But everyday, I learn and study my challenges. I push the door, take the seat on the table and tell them, I am elected just like you and I am here to represent the people who trusted me”, says Aruna who is happy with her work so far.
When asked about her inspiration, she says, “My father. He was a true Indian by heart who migrated to the US to give us a better life. When he passed away, I felt empty and found joy in giving back to society”.
“We were living in Hyderabad when my parents moved to the United States. That’s when I started living with my grandmother in Vijayawada until I came here at the age of 7. My parents did everything they could to provide us the best education.
Aruna has a civil engineering degree from University of Missouri, where she also met her husband, David Miller. “My husband takes care of my family when I am attending the assembly sessions. Our daughters – Meena, Chloe and Sasha understand my schedules and I am also fortunate to have my mother lend a helping hand”. Aruna, a vegetarian, enjoys cooking. Sambar, gongura, brinjal and rice and some pickle – that’s her kind of meal.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Hyderabad / by Swathi Sriram / August 11th, 2016