Tara Afrakhteh Milliff
Attorney at Law
I was raised in a household that on the outside seemed very diverse. My Father came to the United States from Iran while in his thirties to pursue an education and met my Mother while she was also a student at the University of Southern Mississippi. They had two different nationalities, two different native languages, two different religions, they hardly ever agreed on politics, but the things that they had in common were a love for their families and a belief in the importance of a good education.
I have spent my educational career going from one extreme to another. I went to a Montessori Elementary school, which was very open and free thinking. I then attended a Vanguard Middle School which was much stricter academically. For High School I auditioned for and made it into the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where I was a Visual Arts major. My High School experience combined standard academic pursuits with artistic ones. Then I went to College at Texas A&M and joined the Corps of Cadets.
At the time I joined the Corps I was told that as a female cadet the easiest route for me at the time in terms of integration, would be to join an Air Force ROTC, as they had more female cadets and better experience with integration. I didn’t know a lot about the military in general, but my maternal Grandfather had been in the Navy, and both of his sons had followed in his footsteps. My oldest Uncle in the Navy, and his younger brother the Marine Corps reserves. I therefore decided that whether or not it would be the easier route I would join the Navy/Marine ROTC. I became a member of Company P-2 in the fall of 1997, to a class that had approximately 30 freshman cadets or “fish”. Our outfit had been integrated four year earlier, we had one female senior, no female juniors, two female sophomores, and our class started out with six female cadets. When we were seniors, our class was down to 8 cadets total, and I was the only remaining female in Company P-2 Class of ’01.
I learned a lot about myself from being a member of the Corps of Cadets, and I learned that sometimes the people who are most successful are not the people that success comes most easily to. When I joined the Corps, my art background made me one of the least likely to make it past my freshman year, but I was determined to finish what I started. That tenacity is why I succeeded in remaining in the Corps when so many others, who superficially seemed better suited, could not. I graduated with a bachelor of science in Political Science in 2002.
I attended South Texas College of Law, and enrolled in a Mediation Clinic while I was there. During that time I earned my mediation certification which seemed like a natural progression for something I had instinctively done since I was a child in living in a household with two distinct worldviews, I had to balance and mediate between them. I’m proud to have a family of both cultures and believe that my ability to see situations from many different viewpoints is helpful in relating to our clients many different backgrounds and needs.