Aruna Miller, a coy girl from Krishna District went on make a significant difference to the Telugu community at large. A young woman of great ambition saw herself moving from one leap to another, finally representing as a member of Maryland House of Delegates in the United States. From a civil engineer to a political incumbent, Aruna’s journey is nothing short of awe and inspiration.
The memories and the strong Indian roots are still afresh for Aruna. Back when she was 7, relocating to an alien nation with her two siblings and parents in the quest of an identity, little did the shy girl from Ventrapragada in Krishna District knew that she would be retaining her District 15 legislative seat for the second time in Maryland, USA, some four decades later.
Balancing her stints as a legislative member for her state, a career as a civil engineer and on the personal front, coming home only in the weekends during the sessions, she has been a power-woman of sorts, making the best and giving equal importance to many of the parallel worlds she lives in.
Glimpses of Aruna Miller’s Wonder Journey
Life has come full-circle for the Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Missouri, who married her college sweetheart, David in 1990. Now, a mother to three daughters, Meena, Chloe and Sasha, she hasn’t only been an ambassador of change for the Indian community residing in Maryland but also an inspiration for those women with firm intention to serve the society and those who do not consider gender as any possible-barrier for service.
The early 1970’s saw her father Katragadda Venkata Rama Rao working as a mechanical engineer in IBM. Little Aruna was housed then in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she attended public schools. Her engineering aspirations later took her to Mussorie in 1989.
Then came the interesting turn of events. From serving as a transportation engineer in Montgomery Country, her zeal to contribute towards healthcare, education and environmental protection sowed her political roots for the times to come. The consistency in her initiatives to ease access to schools and proposals for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists earned her the much-deserved good-will from the community she resided in.
Her initial success in community representation was her opportunity to be the ‘at large’ member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. Giving much needed impetus for the local citizens in exercising their right to vote, she in a matter of time had also chaired Serving Our Communities (SOC), a group that pre-dominantly strives for social-welfare.
Prior to her victory in 2010 as the Democratic Representative for Maryland, she received a major boost from a fund-raiser organised by native Indians-residing in Chicago, which also invited widespread media coverage in Indian newspapers and television channels.
An excited Aruna, tasting her first political victory, had then remarked, “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my husband, my family and my kids. I really, am excited to see more of my extended family in Maryland when I shall be sworn in. It’s an honour to represent a district as diverse, educated and rooted as mine.” She had her uncle, Mohan Katragadda (Chicago) and sister-in-law Neelima Katragadda (Illnois) supporting her through this journey as well.
Four years down the line, with her second-consecutive victory as a legislative member, she received due help from the Telugu community in Dallas as well. And, is she content with just that? It doesn’t look like it. As a board-member in Black Rock Center for the Arts, the Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation and the Indian Biomedical Association, her strong academic pursuits had her passing out as a graduate of Leadership Montgomery (class of 2013) as well.
Some Hope for The Future and Her Home Soil
Amidst all this prosperity, her Indian connection was put to good-use in other sectors as well. She was equally pivotal in her role in Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley’s trade mission to India, ensuring a business of over 60 million dollars to the state of Maryland.
Aruna, at 50, still has the fire in her belly, even as she has four more years to wrap her second term as a legislative member (2019), chasing newer heights by the day, giving back her best to the second-home, while doing her home nation equally proud.