My story is an American story.
My father took a leap of faith when he left India to come to America. He left behind his young wife, three children, and everything he knew. He was willing to sacrifice who he was for what he was about to become. My father, a mechanical engineering student, studied hard, worked harder, and saved enough money to bring his family to join him one-by-one. I was the last to arrive. It was February 1972, and I was 7 years-old. I can still remember that snowy day, tucked away safely in my dad’s arms, as we stepped off the plane in New York City. I didn’t know it then, but America had just welcomed me home, and it was my turn to give up who I had been for what I was to become, an American.
I learned English, attended public schools, and quickly adapted to my new world. When I was a senior in high school, my father faced a major health crisis and eventually lost his job. I got a job working at a fast food restaurant. I applied for student loans, obtained Pell grants, and worked my way through college to become a civil engineer. I married my college sweetheart, we moved to Maryland, built a home, and together we raised three daughters – Meena, Chloe, and Sasha – and a few dogs.
As a working mom, I juggled raising a family, caring for aging parents, and working full time. I chose a career in public service and worked for 25 years as a Transportation Engineer for Montgomery County and other local governments.
My political interest was sparked by the Bush v Gore election in 2000, where the fate of our country was not determined by the voters but rather by the Supreme Court. It was then I realized Democracy needed me. Not as a bystander or to cast a vote when there’s an election — I needed to engage and empower others every day. I started to volunteer locally which brought me face to face with the needs and problems of others in the community.
In 2010, I ran for and was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates for the 15th Legislative District. As a State Delegate I’ve seen first hand what a big impact small legislative changes can have on people’s lives. My legislation is designed not to check partisan boxes but to help people in their daily lives. I have continually stood up for a progressive agenda to benefit working families, women, children, and seniors. I believe a strong economy starts with high-quality education and the best investment is in our public schools. I worked in partnership with academic and business leaders to invest in STEM education, streamline the regulatory process for small businesses, and bring 21st century jobs to Maryland. With my background in engineering, I worked to invest in our infrastructure so that people of all abilities have equitable access to their community and jobs. I also believe we must conserve and preserve the planet for future generations. My past, present, and future have culminated in one purpose – to give the best of myself every day to champion the needs of other people in the community.
The United States of America has given me much. It accepted me as her own, provided me with the opportunity to get an education, have a fulfilling career where I could give back to my community, raise a loving family, and represent the people of Maryland’s 15th Legislative District. I’ll never be able to pay back the countless men and women before me who gave their lives to fight for our democracy. I’ll never be able to thank my dad who passed away in 1999. But, I can pay it forward and give back to a future that I will never see. I don’t want to just open doors of opportunities, I want to knock the doors down, lift people up, and help every man, woman and child to become who they were meant to be.
I am Aruna Miller. This is my American story. And, this is why I am running for the United States Congress.