Schuyler Miller wants to help societies better govern themselves and he plans to use a Mitchell Scholarship to learn how to do this.
The U.S.-Irish Alliance awarded Miller, who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015, a Mitchell Scholarship on Saturday.
The scholarship, named after George Mitchell, the former U.S. senator from Maine who worked on the Northern Irish Peace Process, covers the cost of one year of graduate work at a university in Ireland.
“The Mitchell Scholarship and a degree from Trinity College Dublin will enable me to further research the role of international institutions like the United Nations, the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization in domestic political change, and to examine how interpersonal relationships contribute to political outcomes,” said Miller, who earned a degree in government and foreign affairs as part of the politics honors program. “Many of the dilemmas Ireland has confronted are realities for every society: Who is ‘we’ and how do ‘we’ govern? We can better address these issues by studying how global institutions engage domestic governance challenges and how relationships within and between countries facilitate consensus for reform.”
Miller said that as a Mitchell Scholar, he will learn how to better navigate institutions and forge relationships to help societies at home and abroad govern themselves.
“I look forward to applying the lessons I learn from the example of the reconciliation process between Ireland and Northern Ireland, both historically and in the modern day,” he said.
Originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Miller is currently living in Alexandria and working as an anti-corruption adviser at the U.S. State Department.
“This has enabled me to explore my passion for building global standards on good governance and for helping countries implement them,” he said. “I support meetings that advance priorities on anti-corruption, including the G20 and the U.N. Convention against Corruption. I oversee foreign capacity-building on anti-corruption, including monitoring and evaluation, and organize a Foreign Service Institute course on ‘Tools and Strategies to Combat Corruption.’”
John Owen, chair of UVA’s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, sees Miller as a “force of nature” who never loses his smile even in a heated debate over a point of theory.
“His collegiality is especially impressive because Sky is one of those people who sees direct connections between the ideas he debates in class and actual political practice,” Owen said. “He believes that ‘democracy’ and ‘networks’ are not only abstractions, but real things with consequences for how we live.
“He also brings innovation and diligence together to an unusual degree. Many people who are full of ideas about starting new enterprises or reforming old ones lack the ability or desire to follow through. Sky is different: he has both creativity and perseverance.”
Rachel Most, an associate dean for academic programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, described Miller as one of the most talented student leaders with whom she has worked.
“He has outstanding ideas and, perhaps more importantly, he sees them through to completion,” she said. “Sky has a strong skill set in analytics, research and in building relationships.”
Miller is UVA’s sixth Mitchell Scholarship winner, according to Andrus Ashoo, director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence.
“I’m quite pleased for Sky, whom I met my first week at UVA just three years ago,” Ashoo said. “While he has grown more focused and more ambitious over the last few years, there was never any doubt that he was a public servant. His heart for others is inspiring, and it has been a privilege to have gotten to know him. It is fitting that Sky, a man who aspires to bring people together and work toward better governance, has won an award named after the man whose efforts led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.”
While at UVA, Miller, an Echols Scholar and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor fraternity, chaired the Academic Affairs Committee and was vice president for administration on the Student Council. He co-founded and directed the Democracy Network, a student organization focused on promoting citizen participation in politics; was a resident adviser and head resident of the Lawn for Housing and Residence Life; and an intern at OpenGrounds, a University space for collaboration, communication and innovation. He also was the managing editor of the Wilson Journal of International Affairs, a member of the International Relations Organization, an elementary school math and reading tutor and a member of the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.
Before graduation, Schuyler interned with the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, where he helped with legislative business and investigated counter-insurgency efforts in Africa; and worked with the U.S. State Department, where he interned for the senior advisor Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, conducted strategy implementation for the Community of Democracies, and coordinated the Civil Society Forum of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit. Since graduation, he has been a Virginia Alumni Mentor and served in his local church.
“As an aspiring civil servant and U.S. diplomat, I plan to advance global governance and democracy by working to improve how international institutions create positive change for citizens in the United States and abroad,” Miller said, “I then plan to draw on my international experiences, including lessons from Ireland, to serve as an elected leader in Virginia. I will advance collaborative governance reform in my communities on systemic issues, including campaign finance and citizen participation, and on policy issues such as education and national security.”
Miller wants to continue his research on the role of international institutions and social relationships in domestic political change, of which Ireland is a prime example, using global connections to facilitate domestic political change.
“I am particularly interested in how to leverage institutions and relationships to improve governance and bring together polarized groups,” Miller said “Over the last few years of working in international affairs for an NGO and at the U.S. Department of State, I have recognized a need to study how international affairs affect local politics. I plan to use the lessons I learn from Ireland, Europe, and beyond to address division and fragmentation in American society.”