Recently, Ms. Lauren Miller, Director of Experiential Learning, announced her imminent move from Los Angeles to one of Hawaii’s main islands–Kauai–to run a farmstead with her husband. The Roar sat down with her to discuss her future plans and reflections on her time at Milken.
“My husband and I first went to Kauai a decade ago,” she told The Roar. “Everyday while we were there, we looked at each other and said: we can’t believe that this is part of the United States, and we could move here if we wanted to! So the move has kind of been on our minds for a really long time, but we didn’t actively pursue it until a year ago.” On a camping trip last year, Miller and her family realized that they were ready for a deeper connection with nature. “We looked around at some towns in Northern California and Southern California and we were open to lots of geographical possibilities, but at some point this past fall we decided that we were only going to do this so many times in our lives, where we just plant ourselves somewhere with no community, no family, no friends, so let’s go big and go to the most amazing place we’ve been on planet earth.”
For some, the next chapter in Miller’s life journey may come as a surprise, but in reality she has always been a “wild, crazy adventurer,” in her own words. In fact, she and her husband met on a travel study abroad program, sleeping on mud floors and even next to a cow for five nights in rural India . “We met at such an adventurous time in our lives, so it’s exciting to be calling again on our adventurous spirits.”
When asked if she had any experience with farming in the past, Miller explained that her husband studied ecology and botany and, in fact, has an extensive garden at their home and at his office. “He has a real green thumb,” she said, “and we actually lived together on a farm in Northern California after college.”
Miller and her husband are not the only ones excited for the move; their two-year-old daughter talks about Hawaii every day. “She is obsessed with Moana,” Miller explained with a chuckle. “We are worried that Moana may have disproportionately influenced our life decisions.” Every time they visit the property in Kauai, she wanders around and takes in the trees. She calls the property “special farm.” Miller is beyond thrilled that her family will be able to “explore the magic of nature.”
“I’ve been at Milken for five years and what I am really going to miss most of all is the Jewish community,” she told The Roar. When Miller came to Milken, she consciously sought out an environment suffused in Judaism. Having spent the summer prior to starting Milken in Israel, Miller knew she would need an “immersive Jewish community” with rabbis for colleagues and the ability to make Jewish jokes with students, “like being able to say I’m a Jewish mother and all of you knowing what I mean.”
“It’s always scary to uproot yourself and it’s obviously bittersweet. Working at Milken has been a dream job for me,” Miller said with a small smile. “Saying hello to a new thing also means saying goodbye to everything else. But I like that fear a lot; I think that’s a healthy way to live.”