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    Secret Agent L Gives the World a Hug—And Not Just During Kindness Week

    Thousands of people are preparing to participate in Random Acts of Kindness week starting on Monday, Feb. 14, but Duquesne University's Laura Miller-known worldwide as Secret Agent L-celebrates kindness daily.

    For Miller and her army of online friends, kindness is a premeditated, daily occurrence meant to be shared. An administrative assistant in Duquesne's history department, Miller has created a project titled Secret Agent L to promote intentional acts of kindness around the world. She began this project in July 2009 and had 80 followers a year later.

    Thanks to social networking, Miller's project has gained her more than 1,600 loyal "agents" in eight countries carrying out intentional acts of kindness, thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter, 400 to 1,000 hits a day on her website-and worldwide attention. As one of Yahoo!'s 10 Most Inspiring Acts of 2010, stories about her work appeared in media outlets from CNN to local news. Her project has taken on a life of its own and has inspired others to start their own kindness projects. Since she revealed herself last summer, Miller has had a full slate of speaking engagements, from the Girl Scouts to libraries. Her motto, "Be Kind. No Exceptions." is now available in stores and online as a magnet.

    "It's like an infectious disease," Miller said, referring to the band of creative "agents" who tap into the positive side by sneaking an encouraging note on someone's car or leaving a gift card for a stranger to find. "I think people just want to feel the power and solidarity of being part of a community. We need to turn society away from a culture of ‘me' to a culture of ‘we.'"

    Of all her missions, one of Miller's favorites was orchestrated last Valentine's Day, when she left handwritten love notes all around the city, encouraging the finders to spread love and kindness even after Valentine's Day.

    "I wanted to remind people that Valentine's Day is about more than romantic love," said Miller, who plans to spearhead similar missions this Feb. 14. "It's about celebrating all kinds of love."

    Don't get the false impression that Miller is some kind of throwback to the peace and love of the 1970s. She's definitely grounded in the 21st century, a woman with two Duquesne English degrees who embraces blogging and social media as means of self-expression, a person who has worked through some of life's darkness with faith and hope "smaller than a mustard seed."

    Miller's belief is that we all need to feel the love and could use some help fanning our hopes. While these missions serve as grace notes to everyday lives, Miller and her agents fight the temptation to linger and see the reactions to their gifts.

    "It's one form of unconditional love," Miller said. It's up to her and her agents to commit acts of kindness, not to make sure they're appreciated. "Don't stop loving because someone doesn't give you the reaction you expect.

    "The state of our world would be better if we focus on each other," she said. "Seeing these results on the web shows there is hope for good in our world. In life, there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met. At the end of the day, we're all just trying to get through this life."

    Duquesne University

    Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in 10 schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.