Why I Give: Siblings Sheila Miller Bernson '71 & Donald Miller '75

(She) Lawyer, nonfiction writer, volunteer at the Pace Women’s Justice Center

(He) Family physician at Lowell Community Health Center

“Sarah Lawrence’s unique educational experience gave me the confidence to say yes to many professional opportunities I might otherwise have walked away from.”
Sheila Miller Bernson ’71

Then Sheila transferred to Sarah Lawrence, following in the footsteps of her mother, Claire Strauss Miller ’36, one of the College’s first dance students. Younger brother Donald arrived in 1970. “I loved it,” he says, “but Sheila was frustrated that I invaded her territory.” Sheila corrects him: “At first!”

Now “We shared good times and friends during our overlap at Sarah Lawrence,” Sheila says, “and that continues to this day.”

Then Edward Hoagland (writing) imparted wisdom to Sheila in one of his courses: “Explore. You need life experience to be a writer.”

Now After many years abroad—Israel, Turkey, South Korea, the Netherlands, Lebanon—Sheila and her husband, John Bernson (VP Finance, SLC, 2006–2010), moved back to Westchester, and she enrolled in The Writing Institute. Last year Sheila was named a Gurfein Writing Fellow.

Then Donald, a self-described “politically active tree hugger,” took an environmental sciences class after returning from a year with the George McGovern campaign. Much to his surprise, he discovered he had a real talent for science.

Now Donald is a physician caring for underserved populations. “Sarah Lawrence gave me the idea that I could set my mind on something as crazy as becoming a doctor—even though I was a junior with no prior science background—and it was all going to work out okay,” Donald says.

Then They began by giving $20 here, $10 there. Donald and his wife, Lauren Radovsky Miller ’76, are proud that daughter Carolyn Miller ’08 also started donating upon her graduation.

Now Both Sheila and Donald give consistently to The Fund for Sarah Lawrence. Donald has also volunteered as class correspondent for more than 40 years and has included the College in his will. “I can’t possibly pay back what I’ve been given—no way,” he says. “I give until it feels good.”