Shannon Miller: Champion Gymnast and 3L at Boston College Law School in Newton, MA
by Heather Jung
Two-time Olympian, business owner, television show host, and health and fitness advocate Shannon Miller is a 3L at Boston College Law School.
Miller entered law school in 2003 after graduating from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Miller is currently a 3L at Boston College Law School and will graduate in May. While she may not be what many consider a traditional law student, Miller is glad she chose to pursue her law degree.
"I have never taken the traditional path to anything I've ever done," Miller said. "With law school, I know that the knowledge base and the way I have learned to think and ask questions will be incredibly helpful in all of the other work I am doing."
Despite the fact that she has enjoyed her time in law school and her studies, Miller did not attend law school in hopes of becoming a lawyer. As a gymnast, business owner, and general source of media interest, she said, she had been signing contracts for years without fully knowing what she was signing—an idea that frightened her. She said that going to law school seemed like the best way to get the knowledge she "desperately needed."
Although she had spent years performing in front of millions of people, Miller said that she was more nervous on her first day of class than she had ever been in all her years of competition, since she really did not know what to expect.
"Law school is already incredibly intimidating, and at first I was terrified I would have the wrong answer when called on in class and make a complete fool of myself," Miller said. "But after going through some personal challenges along the way, all of that seemed silly. I finally got to a point where I realized I don't have to be perfect. If I have the wrong answer in class, it's okay. School is about learning. And I'd much rather make the mistake in class and learn from it than make it in the real world, where you are dealing with real people's lives."
Miller said she went into law school not expecting anyone to know who she was, and then, somewhere along the way, she realized that everyone knew. She said that added to the pressure at first. In the end, she found her peers to be extremely kind and realized that they were all in it together. She said that her classmates have been the most influential people she has met while in law school.
Miller is the most decorated American gymnast with 59 international and 49 national competition medals. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, she was the first American gymnast to ever win the gold medal for the balance beam.
"I lived in a very sheltered world: the world of gymnastics. I had accomplished some wonderful things, but going to law school made me realize that there was a big world out there, and so many of the people I sat with in class were extremely accomplished in truly amazing areas. I may have been able to flip around pretty good, but some of my fellow students had such incredible backgrounds that I just stood in awe of them," she said.
Miller grew up in Edmond, OK. Her mother is a vice president of a local bank, and her father is a physics professor at the University of Oklahoma. She has two siblings: an older sister who is enrolled in an M.D./Ph.D. program and a younger brother studying physics engineering. She said that she began her gymnastics career at just five years old and that she loved it from the first day.
As she was painfully shy as a child, gymnastics was a way for Miller to really show her personality. When she was eight, she began training at Dynamo Gymnastics, an Oklahoma-based training center. By the age of 11, she was competing internationally. She participated in the 1992 summer Olympics, where she won silver medals for all-around and the beam and bronze medals for the floor, bars, and team categories.
She returned to the Olympics in 1996 as part of the "Magnificent Seven," a team that also included Dominique Dawes, Dominique Moceanu, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, and Jaycie Phelps. The Magnificent Seven went on to capture the team gold, and Miller won the first and only gold medal for America on the balance beam. In 2000, Miller was looking forward to making her third Olympic appearance in Sydney but, after suffering a broken leg, was not selected. Instead, she served as an analyst for MSNBC's coverage of the Games.
Today, Miller resides in Florida, and while national appearances have kept her busy, she has focused much of her attention on health and fitness. She is passionate about working with people of all ages in order to help them live healthier lifestyles.
What do you do for fun?
Mostly I work, but I love what I do! I also read a lot (fiction and biographies). I also like to be active. I am always up for trying something new. I like to play racquetball, squash, golf, scuba dive, sky dive, drive race cars, and last year, I ran the New York City Marathon. And I love to travel and see new places.
What CD is in your CD player right now?
Michael Buble, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Rascal Flatts.
What is the last magazine you read?
Self, Fitness, and Inside Gymnastics (I write an article in this one).
What is your favorite TV show?
I have three favorites, and I can't choose one over the other: CSI, Psych, and Monk.
Who is your role model?
My mother. She can do anything she sets her mind to and never does anything halfway.
What is something most people don't know about you?
Most people know that my passions are for health and fitness and motivating people to achieve their dreams. Most people probably wouldn't think that one of my favorite things to do is make a big batch of cookie dough, curl up in my favorite chair, and watch Psych or Monk all weekend (everything in moderation, right?).
Just last year, Miller started the Shannon Miller Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. In March, Florida Governor Charlie Crist appointed Miller to the Governor's Council of Physical Fitness along with Jennifer Capriati, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Shaquille O'Neal. This summer, she will open the Texas Sports Ranch, a summer gymnastics camp, in Houston along with fellow Olympic gymnast Peter Kormann.
"These are the areas where I feel I can make a real difference in peoples' lives," Miller said.