UI convocation speaker lives off humor, excitement

BY BEN SCHUFF | AUGUST 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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Storm Miller isn’t a thief. He just likes to have fun.

What started out as an innocent “game” a couple of years ago resulted in a spoon collection that now counts more than 125 for the University of Iowa freshman.

Miller has spoons from various restaurants, hotels, and even his own church — the one he said he feels most guilty about.

“Sometimes, I’ll just be really obvious with it and be like, ‘Hey, can you go get me a spoon,’ ” he said. “And at most places they’re just like, ‘I don’t care.’ ”

As Miller talked about his spoon collection, he became excited and gestured with his hands.

That same kind of excitement and outgoing personality earned Miller, 18, the opportunity to speak to the class of 2015 on Sunday on the Pentacrest.

During his stay in Iowa City for Orientation this past summer, the Davenport native saw posts on Facebook and Twitter about a Convocation speaker contest. At first, he didn’t make much of the contest because he said he didn’t know what it was for exactly. But after talking to a friend a few days later, Miller decided to enter and beat out roughly 20 other entrants.

Miller started his audition video by quoting “The great philosopher Madonna.” His sense of humor was appreciated by the contest committee.

“I think that was a positive,” said Beth Ingram, the UI associate provost for undergraduate education and a Convocation committee member. “A lot of people in the room commented on that.

“He came across as very relaxed and genuine. He’s got to stand up and talk in front of 4,500 people, so we wanted somebody who seemed like he or she wouldn’t be nervous out there and who had a message that was genuine.”

Once she met Miller in person, Ingram said she was impressed by his engagement with the university — Miller plays the mellophone in the Marching band.

“He’s a great example to other students on campus,” she said.

Also on the contest committee was Anne Kapler, who works for the Office of University Relations and helped Miller write his speech.

“When we saw his video, we thought he had a great message, that he was very articulate, he had some original thoughts, and a sense of humor — we like seeing that,” Kapler said.

Now that his speech is over, he said, he looks forward to classes, his time in the band, and meeting his fellow classmates.

And as for his spoon collection?

“I keep telling myself I’ll get old, write a book about it, and just kind of travel around and take the spoons back to people,” he said.

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