By Jana Allen
Jordan Miller is a junior journalism major at the University of Oklahoma, and the OU Daily newspaper’s news managing editor. Houston, Texas is where she calls home and before college she lived there with her brother, dad, stepmom and step brother. Jordan’s mother died of brain cancer when Jordan was in the fifth grade. All these years later, Jordan still cherishes the memories she has with her mother and the lessons she learned from losing someone so close to you so early in life.
Tell me about your family and your childhood.
We moved around a lot when I was young because of my dad’s job. So I was born in Oregon, we lived there for about a year and a half. And then we moved back to Houston whenever my mom was pregnant with my brother. We lived there for a little bit longer, until I went to preschool. And after preschool, and after my brother was born, we moved to Connecticut and my dad worked in Manhattan. I think he might have worked for Enron at this point, like their headquarters in Manhattan.
I turned five in New York City, which was cool, and I went to private school for a little bit. And then after a year, we moved to Austin. And then after I completed first grade in Austin, we moved back to Houston. And I lived in Houston until I went to college.
My mom got sick whenever I was in third grade. She had breast cancer and then it metastasized to her brain. She got one of her tits removed, so she had like this fake gelatin tit.
Just so you know, I’m not writing tit on this.
You better put tit that’s what I said. But anyways, she died whenever I was in fifth grade. And then once my dad like got remarried, and like my step mom and my step brother were in the family, we moved to a different house, like a one and a half storey house. And I lived there until I came to OU.
What’s your favorite memory of your mom?
So like, my brother did a bunch of baseball growing up. And I didn’t really have a sport. Like, I tried a bunch. I tried to do soccer when I was really little. I didn’t really like it. And then whenever I got older, I tried to do softball, but I hated it. And so I just never really got that bonding experience with my parents, because like every weekend was devoted to my brother, he had tournaments all the time. But my mom kind of made up for it. So like, if my brother had practice and my dad was helping, we would have ‘Lavender Nights.’ We would go get dinner at Taco Bell, and then we’d go to Hollywood Video and rent a movie and get like a soda from there. Then we’d go home and watch that and then I’d have a lavender bath afterwards. Those nights are nice to remember.
What’s the most important thing you learned from losing your mom at such a young age?
I guess just always treat every time you see your family like it’s the last time that you see someone because one of the last nights I spent with my mom, I told her that I hated her, which was screwed up. We went to Outback and I was mad at her for something dumb. And then later, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I really did that.’ And she died a few days later.
So did your mom have a job or was she a stay-at-home mom?
My mom was an accountant before she had me and my brother, but she was a stay-at-home mom for the time we were kids. She was supposed to go back to her job after we both came out of elementary school.
So what made her decide to stay at home with you guys?
I guess that’s just what she wanted to do, get us through elementary school. And then she would be like, they can kind of take care of themselves, and then I can go have a job. I guess that’s what she thought.
Did you guys ever talk about aspirations for your future, your career?
Not really. I mean, I was too young at that point. I think I wanted to be a vet or something when I was a kid.
When did you decide you wanted to become a journalist?
I had an open elective spot in high school, and my friend was on the paper so I thought might as well try it. And then I really liked it. I liked being in a leadership role at that little paper we had, and I had a good time. So it was like, ‘Oh, might as well keep doing this. It seems pretty cool.’ I really wanted to do something that makes change, you know. And I wasn’t sure if I could do that, but then I went to this Northwestern Journalism Institute thing where they had people come and talk to us, like fantastically insane journalists who were super talented. I just learned you really could make a change of journalism, even if it’s small. There was this one person who talked to us about how they did a story on this type of baby crib and how much infants were dying getting their heads stuck in there, something like that. And because of their story on it, they stopped selling the crib, and more regulations were made to make sure it doesn’t happen again. So I was like, ‘Well, I can do this.’ So that’s where I am now.
What is one of your stories that you wish she could read and why?
I really like this story that was about this former football player who now owns Ray’s Barbecue. That is a story that I really enjoyed writing. And I feel like a lot of my voice came out in it. And I think a lot of the time I kind of tie my parents pride in me with sports stuff, because that’s how it was growing up. My dad was really interested in it because I talked to Barry Switzer and he told all of our family, ‘Oh my god, you know who Jordan just got off the phone with? Barry Switzer.’
Do you ever think about how supportive your mom would be of this career path?
I just kind of feel like she would be happy with whatever I do, like my dad is. He’s just happy that I’m happy. I’m sure she would have been happy.