Resiliency and fortitude are two words that aptly describe Erin Milos in her path so far. Growing up on a farm near the small town of Dufur, a 550-person community outside The Dalles, she learned that you have to make your own opportunities. If you find one route blocked, you choose another to get to where you want to be.
Today, as a single mother of two kids, and just a year away from attaining a Willamette Law degree and a Masters in Business Administration, Milos can recall a few forks in the road that would have given others plenty of permission to settle.
Our school in Dufur was so small, we had kindergarten through twelfth grade in the same building,” Milos said. “We weren’t able to take the large variety of classes offered in larger schools, but I was able to take needed courses at The Dalles High School my senior year.”
In high school, she participated in track and loved performing in plays. She fondly recalled playing Cinderella in a production of Into the Woods in The Dalles.
After graduation, she fell in love and started a family of her own. “Yes, I got married at age 19, we had two kids and he changed his mind,” she explained. Milos moved to Salem, where her family had moved in the meantime, and had to take a sober look at her options. She chose Willamette.
“Of the three Oregon schools I visited, Willamette felt like more of a community to me,” she said. “People were nicer and friendlier, and the atmosphere was less stressful.”
Following graduation in 2012, Milos knew she wanted to go into law, and first decided to attend Portland Community College for paralegal training. “I thought it was the best course for a single mom, but deep down I knew I had to have the full-meal deal,” she said.
Not only did she decide to attend Willamette Law School, she elected to pursue a Masters in Business Administration from the Atkinson School as well. The joint degree program is supposed to take three years and, after taking courses during the summer, Milos is slated to graduate with both honors next year.
However, Milos is quick to provide credit where credit is due for her success to date. “None of this would be possible without a support system,” she said. “I have a family and a significant other who’s amazing. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them. But I also have had community support all along the way — from living in Dufur, where everyone is your mom, to the Willamette faculty and staff who really look out for your best interests.”
Once she earns her degrees, Milos plans to go into business law. “I want to help people with their businesses and help them achieve their dreams,” she said. “That’s why I’m getting an MBA too — so I can know how business people tick and how to help them with their legal problems.”
Milos also is well aware of the edge she’ll have with JD/MBA degrees. “I feel like the world has opened up to a wider world of employment,” she explained. “While the plan is still to be an attorney, it’s an extremely competitive landscape. Having the joint degree will give me greater choices.”
Making smart choices has served Milos very well. “My experience at Willamette has been both eye opening and humbling,” she said. “I think Willamette opens the world to you. Willamette doesn’t just teach you what you need to know about finance and law, it teaches you how to get out in the business world and live.”