Duquesne University’s Laura Miller Revealed as Secret Agent for Kindness
For the last year, Laura Miller of Duquesne University’s history department has been a secret agent of sorts.
Miller is known on campus as an extroverted administrative assistant. But as a double alumna of Duquesne (bachelor’s and master’s degrees in literature), she also is known as “Jane Duquesne.” She takes Duquesne’s principle of serving others seriously enough to start a “secret mission” of her own. She literally became an agent for change as Secret Agent L, All-Around Swell Chick.
Last July, she was planning to send a friend a birthday present, but the friend declined. “Go do a random act of kindness in my name.”
So began Miller’s mantra: Be kind. No exceptions.
The first hydrangea flower was placed on an innocent motorist’s windshield with a little card. “For you. (Yes, you.) No. Really, you. The person reading this. Go ahead. Open this.”
“We leave little gifts for people to find” is Miller’s simple explanation of her mission. The gift might be a flower, a book, a small gift card, and refers the finders to her website, www.secretagentl.com. The site espouses her philosophy, “Everyone, no matter who they are, could use a little kindness. In fact, the whole world could use a little more kindness, wouldn't you agree?”
Miller’s inspiring missions remained anonymous until July 25, when she revealed herself at a party/fundraiser. The event drew more than 150 people and raised more than $1,500 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A close loved one has a serious form of mental illness, which, Miller said, “has informed the narrative of my life.”
The website of Secret Agent L, who also is an avid user of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, changed when her identity became known: “My real name is Laura, and I'm a 32 year-old woman who lives in—and deeply loves—Pittsburgh. My day job consists of working at a local university—a job I absolutely love.
“But more than that, I am a lover of people and kindness. …I want nothing more than to extend my heart and hands to those around me, regardless of who they are or where they come from. And I want to inspire others to do the same. I felt that giving up my anonymity would help make that even more of a reality.”
All along, Miller’s email box has been filled with notes from those who have found the gifts, with some writers sharing very personal stories. “I was seeing actual evidence that people are so hungry for kindness,” Miller said. She speaks with pride of her still-secret affiliates, a growing band of about 80 “agents” who have stepped up across the U.S., in Canada, Holland, Germany, Finland, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
“Following this project gives me hope for humanity,” said Miller. “One of the greatest honors of my life is to do this project.”
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.