Annapolis (Maryland): Aruna Miller, a native of Hyderabad, made political history by becoming the first Indian-American politician to be elected as the lieutenant governor of the US state of Maryland.
On January 18, Miller was sworn in as the State’s tenth Lieutenant Governor.
In her inauguration speech, Miller, a 58-year-old transportation engineer by profession, credited her success to her family, who had immigrated to the United States from India. Her father, a mechanical engineer, was the first to arrived in the US in the late 1960s as a student before he brought the rest of his family, and she arrived in the country in 1972 as a 7-year-old. Upstate New York became home to her parents and two siblings, a brother and a sister. Her father was an engineer for IBM, according to a report in the Washington Post.
She was part of a historic Democratic ticket that sailed to victory in November last year and also gave Maryland its first Black governor, its first Black attorney general and its first female comptroller, the Post reported.
From 2010 until 2018, Miller served two terms in the Maryland House of Delegates. According to the daily, she previously ran for congress but was unsuccessful. During her oath-taking ceremony, an emotional Miller shared the story of her arrival from India and made a special mention of her unforgettable first day of school.
“None of them looked like me. And I couldn’t speak a word of English, but I wanted to fit in. So when we went to the cafeteria, I had a plan. I was going to do exactly what everyone else was doing,” Miller recounted.
“So I ate American food for the first time. I drank cold milk for the first time in my life. I was feeling pretty good. I thought okay, I think I went over all these classmates of mine. They’re my friends now. I walked back to the classroom and proceeded to vomit all over the desk. I was mortified. My teacher called my mom who came to pick me up. And I told her I want to go back to grandma who raised me in India,” Miller recalled.
The newly appointed Lt. Governor, who took her oath on the Bhagwat Gita, said that as a woman of colour she spent most of her life trying to fit into a space that didn’t have her in mind as an immigrant or a woman of colour.
Miller, who had become a US citizen in her 30s, said, “As an Indian American legislator in a legislature that looked nothing like me. It took me a long time to realize that it was never about needing to fit into a space created by others. It was always about having the courage to be my authentic self in every space,”.
Miller expressed her gratitude to her parents and siblings after taking the oath of office. “To my mom and dad who took a leap of faith to come to this country because they believed in the promise of America, to my siblings, you were the best part of my childhood. And I thank you and I love you for always being there,” she said.
Miller’s victory is also due to her popularity among Indian Americans in the state of Maryland where several Republican, pro-Trump supporters came out to extend their support to her.
Aruna Miller tweeted,” Maryland, I am humbled and honored to be your Lieutenant Governor. We are only just getting started!”.
Maryland, I am humbled and honored to be your Lieutenant Governor. We are only just getting started! pic.twitter.com/tUM0ai6Us7
— Aruna Miller (@arunamiller) January 18, 2023
Miller spent 25 years working for the Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Transportation to improve public safety and create equitable transportation access.
She represented District 15 in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2010 to 2018, where she worked to create legislation to invest in STEM education, streamline the regulatory process for small businesses and advocate for working families, survivors of domestic abuse and the environment.
She participated in the US presidential election for the first time in 2000, the year she was granted citizenship. Gradually, she was pulled towards the politics of the state of Maryland and the country.