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Penn State Alum Creating Political Change As Youngest Pennsylvania State Senator In A Century

From a young age, Nick Miller knew he wanted to give back to his hometown community of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Fast forward a few years, and Miller is now serving his community as senator of the Lehigh Valley.

Miller began his political journey at Penn State’s Lehigh Valley campus, where he majored in finance with a concentration in international business. Seeing the impact of the university’s large alumni network, career opportunities, and overall culture, he knew that Penn State was the institution where he wanted to spend his next four years. Miller transferred to University Park after two years as part of the 2+2 plan.

While at Penn State, Miller had multiple internships with companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Chamber of Commerce. He was also the president of the Business Society and participated in study abroad trips to Peru and the Netherlands, where he discovered his love for travel and learning new perspectives.

After graduating in 2017, Miller began working at IBM, but he knew he wanted to do more. At 24 years old, he decided to run to become a member of Allentown’s school board.

“I wanted to give back to my community, so I ran for the local school board that was going through some financial difficulties. I wanted to bring in my business and finance background,” Miller said.

Miller’s mother, Lehigh County Judge Michele Varricchio, has always inspired him to create change. So, after three years on Lehigh Valley’s school board, Miller decided to take a chance and campaign to become senator for the Pennsylvania State Senate’s 14th District.

“I realized that true change comes from the state level and how districts are funded. When the new maps came out, I saw an opportunity to represent Lehigh Valley and decided to make some change for the school district,” Miller explained.

In November 2022, Miller was officially elected to represent Lehigh Valley, making him the youngest Pennsylvania senator in over 100 years at age 27.

Courtesy of Penn State News

Now that he’s in office, Miller and his staff are focused on fully funding school districts across the commonwealth, expanding the economic development of Lehigh Valley and supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“We have to invest in education. It’s not only investing in the workforce of tomorrow, but right now our local property taxpayers are shouldering the burden of increased property tax. I think if the state steps up like I would like them to, it would relieve some of that burden,” he said.

As for his age, Miller says it hasn’t caused him any trouble. In fact, Miller describes how it’s actually working to his advantage.

“My colleagues are excited that there’s someone younger involved to bring in fresh ideas and a different mindset,” he said.

“There’s a ton of different challenges facing the commonwealth. Whether it’s economic development, education, or infrastructure, the issues go on and on. So, having the energy to pull together a strong staff to figure out how we can effect change and use the right policies is what we’re focusing on right now,” he continued.

At 27, Miller is focused on getting younger generations interested and involved in politics. He says it’s up to us to drive the conversation away from divisive topics in order to achieve our goals.

“I think that the polarizing part of politics has definitely turned off a lot of the younger generations, and my campaign has steered clear of all that. I’m in the middle of the road and just want to see good policy and effective leadership,” Miller said. “I think it’s up to the younger generations to drive the conversation back to that because polarization gets nothing done.”

Miller’s favorite part about the job is working with stakeholders from the region and listening to community members to create solutions.

He is a big advocate of supporting fire departments, EMS, and police in a fiscally responsible way so they’re sustainable long term. He has also introduced and increased Level Up Funding by $400 million to serve the 100 poorest districts in Pennsylvania, which Miller says highlights the true need to invest in education.

Despite this busy job, Miller says that he tries to come back to Happy Valley as much as possible. His favorite Penn State memory was Marcus Allen’s field goal block and Grant Haley’s 60-yard return for the game-winning touchdown against Ohio State back in 2016.

“That was definitely one of my highs,” he said.

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About the Author

Ava Brendgord

Ava is a senior from Houston, TX majoring in broadcast journalism. She loves coffee and bagels, traveling, and keeping a healthy balance between watching the news and reality television. Follow her at @avabrendgord on Instagram or email her at [email protected].

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