Ryan Miller is a junior at Goshen College majoring in sustainable food systems. Miller currently holds two part-time jobs, which is normal for college students. What may surprise people is the uniqueness of his jobs and the routine he has developed to keep up with college and work.
Miller works at a local dairy farm and at Violett Cemetery here in Goshen. On the same day Miller might help deliver a calf, dig a hole for a grave, and go to class afterward. He is always on the go, and he loves it that way. Although the combination of the two jobs may be rare, Miller enjoys this work and has gained a lot of valuable knowledge from both jobs.
“I like to be outside. I am way too fidgety to be in an office and try to do something inside,” Miller said. “I discovered I enjoyed it a lot more than I realized. I work with some fantastic people at the cemetery. My boss there is probably one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. It helps that they are very relaxed about school and very flexible with my class schedule.”
Miller has countless stories of interesting experiences. He fell inside the very first grave he helped dig and has chased calves and been kicked by them.
“You get real good at doing lots of things that you never thought you would have to do,” said Miller.
One highlight of Miller’s work is that he’s “engaged in the circle of life.” One time he helped deliver a calf and directly after that he went to dig a grave.
“In less than eight hours I had seen both ends of the life spectrum, from the newborn wildly calf that can hardly stand at all to digging a grave for somebody,” he said.
Something challenging in Miller’s work was getting used to the idea of digging graves.
“It was a little weird at first. It was also weird to think I am putting somebody in their final resting place on earth, which took a little bit to come to terms with. Then, I also think about ‘okay you know it’s got to get done’… It doesn’t bother me now, it’s a part of life,” Miller said.
Working two jobs and attending college can be challenging, but surprisingly Miller has found a routine that works for him even though it can be rough at times. He starts his day around 2 a.m. and does homework until about 4:30 in the morning. During that time he also engages in long conversations with the midnight campus security officer.
Miller then heads to his job at the dairy farm or the cemetery and comes back to class.
“There’s a special word for me… insane.”
Back when Miller was in high school and worked 60-80 hour weeks in the summer, he discovered that he only really needs to sleep about three times a day for two hours.
“My body has been fairly well trained in that. I have no real good circadian rhythm anymore,” Miller said.
“It’s never fun when you’re getting up to start the next day before the next day hasn’t even started,” he said.
Even though his work is sometimes rough on him, Miller has discovered many new things about himself and has gained confidence in his abilities.
“I’ve discovered that I’m a lot more… willingly and able to do stuff than I think I am… It’s given me a little bit more confidence as I think about myself as I grow up,” Miller said.
What first started as temporary jobs have now become things Miller really enjoys doing.
Miller wishes to have his own dairy farm one day and even purchased his first calf last summer.
He wants the work he does in the future to have a positive impact on the world.
“I hope to be successful in whatever I do. I hope that what I do can to some degree… provide a service to people and… provide a product for people”
“People need food, people need healthy food,” said Miller. “Realistically, I won’t make a huge difference in it [but] my goal is to somehow care for others in a way that reflects my core values and beliefs, as well as to also be a steward of the gifts that we’re given.”