Mia Brandenburg found her creative passion at Millikin and will now share it with the Decatur community

The Business Communication major graduated in May and will anchor the weekend morning news on WAND.

Mia Brandenburg

DECATUR, Ill. – For recent Millikin University graduate Mia Brandenburg, Class of 2024, the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly trying.

After studying nursing for two and a half years at Illinois College, Mia transferred to Millikin as the pandemic expanded. Along with her class schedule, Mia also worked as a COVID screener in the emergency room at Decatur Memorial Hospital, giving her second thoughts about her career plans. 

“I was working in the ER, and I'd go to work before I came into school, and I just burnt myself out working through the pandemic. I was working in the COVID units, and it was overwhelming,” Mia said. “There was high demand, and it seemed just non-stop. I just got to the point where I needed to make a decision about my future.”

While growing up, Mia, originally from Cerro Gordo, Ill., competed in the pageant circuit, and her family had always thought she should get into communications and media. 

Mia Brandenburg

“My dad has always told me I needed to be a Communications major. He said that I needed to be on the news. I loved public speaking, which was my favorite part of being in pageants,” Mia said. “Getting to do the speeches and the interviews at pageants made me change my mind.”

Mia switched majors and two years later graduated with a Business Communication degree during the Spring 2024 Commencement ceremony. That dream of being on the news is coming true as it was recently announced that Mia will serve as a full-time Multimedia Journalist and Anchor at WAND-TV in Decatur. She will also anchor the Saturday and Sunday morning news show starting in June. 

Mia Brandenburg

Mia began working at WAND through a Performance Learning internship in the Fall 2023  semester and got first-hand reporting experience while doing local-interests stories on topics, such as Millikin’s Human Trafficking Research Lab and Decatur-area students raising money to improve the 9/11 memorial

“I've gotten some experience in all the different aspects of the station. I produced the weekend morning show and I’ve been reporting for them once a week since my internship,” Mia said. “They've worked on anchoring with me, and I've gone out to shoot stories. I've gotten to write my web articles. I’ve been able to do everything, and WAND has been very open to teaching me. It's been a great opportunity.”

Mia Brandenburg

Mia credits her comfortability on camera with her experience doing pageants, which she stated doing at age two. Over the years, Mia has competed in the Miss for America Strong, Miss Illinois USA, and American Royal Beauties pageant competitions.

“I was able to practice my interview skills, which has helped me now with what I will do. It helps me come up with the questions that I want to ask, and in general, it's helped me know how to present myself,” Mia said. “It's funny because I am more uncomfortable speaking to a small room of people than I am on stage in front of a thousand people. That's my comfort zone and I know I can get up there on stage, give my speech, and it will be great.”

Mia Brandenburg

That transition from Nursing to Business Communication was a big leap for Mia, and she appreciates the help that the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Nancy Curtin, who was the Chair of the Communication Department at the time, gave her during that stressful time. 

“Everybody was incredibly supportive of me. Dr. Curtin met with me and told me about the Business Communication major, and I felt that maybe this sounds like something I wanted to do,” Mia said. “She walked me through the classes and the possibilities of what I could do. I had a million questions all the time, and she has been super supportive ever since. Transferring to Millikin was the absolute best decision I could have made, and I wish I had done it sooner.”