Alumni Spotlight: Miranda Summers Lowe ’01
Miranda Summers Lowe is an Army Public Affairs officer living in Washington, DC. She has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary (2006) and a Master’s Degree from Brown University (2009).
Miranda graduated from the Indiana Academy in 2001. She came to the Academy out of family tradition (her mother was involved with the school as a professor in the Ball State Teacher’s College and her brother is also an alum).
She credits the Academy with giving her the opportunity to take classes in Russian and Military History, which would become the focus of her higher education. “I took AP Calculus and Physics and it was absolutely the wrong fit for me. One day I went back to my dorm and threw away the college applications I’d started for engineering schools and switched into additional history and literature classes. I got to college at least a year ahead of my peers in those areas, and I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to pay—financially or emotionally—for those mistakes in college.”
Burris/Academy sports also played a huge role. She participated in track, cross-country, basketball and the inaugural Burris Dazzlers Dance Team. “I got to the Academy with a sound mind, but not a sound body. I see so many of my classmates through the years who have these great minds, but they are physically too weak, or plagued by preventable diseases, to bring the full benefit of that intelligence to the world. At my home high school, sports were something for a few elite kids who had been training since elementary school. At the Academy, I could try anything that interested me. Burris/Academy athletics taught me to do things for myself and not for a letter jacket. It was the first thing I ever had to do at school that was really, truly hard. It taught me to do the hard things and fail, again and again, and continue to be the first one at practice the next day. I never would have been able to make a career in the military if I hadn’t had the chance to learn that lesson. Not only that, but taught me not to shy away from physical challenges just because I’d been pegged early as the smart kid and not the athletic kid. I’ve had the stamina to do things like run a marathon in Paris and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s an amazing gift.”
“The military always interested me, but my parents, teachers and peers alike all seemed to agree that it wasn’t the place for the intelligent people.” She started at George Washington University in Washington, DC. A month into classes, the September 11th attacks took place. “People had said, ‘Finish your college first, the military will be there later.’ All of a sudden I thought they’d gotten it turned around. The military needed people at that moment, and seriously, colleges had been around for a while and were going to be there later. I took a year off of school, joined the National Guard and went through basic training.”
She found out that the National Guard would pay 100% tuition for any state school, and transferred to the College of William and Mary. “The Guard paid tuition, books, and a monthly stipend to work two days a month. I don’t think that I’ve seen an academic scholarship that good.” Without having to work, she was able to hold a leadership position in her Sorority and participate in other campus activities.
“Of course that came with a price—an obligation. When my National Guard unit was called up to go to Iraq in 2005, it was the middle of my senior year. I was able to work it out with my college professors to take incompletes and finish my last semester from Iraq.”
While in Iraq, Miranda worked as a supply sergeant and was tasked to additional duties as a Black Hawk helicopter door gunner. Her story became part of the book As You Were by Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport.
Within weeks of her return, she got her acceptance letter for graduate school at Brown University, and because of the GI Bill, she was able to attend. While at Brown, Miranda participated in a cultural exchange with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and intern at Harpers Ferry National Park, the Naval War College and The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.
She was selected for Officer Candidate School and commissioned as an army officer. She has attended the Military Intelligence Officer Basic School and the Public Affairs Qualification Course.
While serving as a public affairs officer for the D.C. National Guard, she has traveled to Cameroon to participate in a public affairs workshop with 16 African nations, worked with Jamaica to create a joint museum exhibit, served as a public affairs officer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration Commander-in-Chief ball, stood on the field during Washington Nationals games and flown in a helicopter above the National Mall while the Cherry Blossoms were in bloom.
She also holds the title of command historian and was responsible for curating the newly opened D.C. National Guard museum. She’s also worked to write a pocket history booklet for D.C. National Guardsmen and a short documentary film. “There are a lot of academic types in the military. The old stereotypes just haven’t been true. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work as a historian in a place where what I do is used and valued.”
When not at work, Miranda lives on Capitol Hill with her husband, Justin, and Bernese Mountain Dog, Laika. She volunteers with Horton’s Kids, a nonprofit for at-risk youth, serves on the board of the Anne S.K. Brown military collection and is a member of the Junior League.