Alafair Turner—2020 MIU Salutatorian

Alafair Turner—2020 MIU Salutatorian

2020 MIU salutatorian Alafair Turner

With course leader Ajaya Shrivastava (left) and friends Iuulia Khairutdinova and Heather O’Moore (center) at the Transcendental Meditation teacher training course in Thailand

Speaking at the commencement ceremony

Alafair Turner arrived at MIU in August 2018 and, in less than two years, she learned the TM-Sidhi® program, became a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and graduated as salutatorian.

A self-described seeker, Alafair was pursuing a major she designed at the University of Chicago aiming to answer the question: “What is the Self?” In her second year, she read Jack Forem’s 1973 book on the Transcendental Meditation technique, and a few weeks later she learned the TM® technique. She discovered MIU through her TM instructor and MIU alumna, Tegan Jung, and decided to transfer in search of a healthier lifestyle, supportive environment, and the true answer to her question.

At MIU Alafair completed an individualized BA in holistic life and a minor in Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM, with the Transcendental Meditation teacher training course as the final component of her degree. “A part of me knew the moment I learned TM that I wanted to become a teacher,” she said. “It was an instant recognition of a deeper value.”

Alafair completed the Transcendental Meditation teacher training course in Thailand and, after she returned in February 2020, she taught the TM technique at MIU; in Nashville, Tennessee; and in San Diego, California, before the centers had to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For her next assignment she is joining the Heal the Healers Now initiative in Chicago, which provides the TM technique to frontline healthcare workers battling COVID-19. In addition, she is continuing her studies at MIU in the online MA in Maharishi Vedic Science program.

Alafair is grateful to the MIU community for the support, generosity, and inspiration she received while pursuing her goal of becoming a teacher of the TM technique. “Having learned the history of the Transcendental Meditation organization, to feel the enormity of the tradition keeps my awareness clear,” she said. “Knowing that now I am becoming part of this tradition, contributing to Maharishi’s vision and our collective goals, carrying the torch forward is the inspiration that flows through me every day,”.

Watch Alafair’s commencement address during the commencement ceremony.

Patricia Saunders Earns PhD and Publishes Book on the Maharishi Effect

Patricia Saunders Earns PhD and Publishes Book on the Maharishi Effect

MIU doctoral graduate Patricia Saunders

The cover of An Antidote to Violence

Patricia speaking at the 2020 Graduation Awards Ceremony

Patricia Saunders received her PhD degree during the 2020 MIU graduation ceremonies and an Outstanding Student Award in the Maharishi Vedic Science department.

Patricia studied classical music in London and began her career as a concert pianist and composer. But when she learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique, she decided to devote her life to teaching it. She taught the TM® technique in her hometown in England and also worked on projects for the UK Transcendental Meditation organization.

When Maharishi announced the Invincible America Assembly in 2006, Patricia came to Fairfield to join. When she arrived, she was impressed with the quality of teaching and knowledge in the Maharishi Vedic Science department, so in 2007 she began her master’s degree in Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM.

“I gained such very deep insights into Veda and Vedic literature from the professors that I really never looked back,” said Patricia. Her PhD dissertation researched and documented her experiences of higher states of consciousness while reading the forty branches of the Vedic literature in sequence, as designed by Maharishi, in conjunction with her practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi® programs during the Invincible America Assembly.

While working on her thesis, Patricia also coauthored the book An Antidote to Violence with Barry Spivack. The book examines 20 peer-reviewed studies of the Maharishi Effect and how it reduces societal tensions.

Patricia explained that “The book has three aims: to inspire scientists to inspire scientists to investigate collective consciousness, to inspire them to examine the research that shows how the TM technique and its advanced programs influence the collective consciousness, and to encourage governments to create the Maharishi Effect in their own countries.”

Although Patricia has given up her musical career, in her free time she has composed several orchestral and choral pieces which were performed in Iowa. She also had two of her plays performed in Fairfield, while another received an honorable mention in a Writers Digest competition for stage plays. In addition, her poetry has been published in several online journals.

Mohamed Hassan—From Architect to Software Developer

Mohamed Hassan—From Architect to Software Developer

MIU student Mohamed Hassan

With Adjunct Professor Jim Bagnola during a Leadership for Technical Managers class

Mohamed (front center) in his first class, the Science and Technology of Consciousness, with students and teaching assistant Christine Albers (top center)

MIU student Mohamed Alfidil Hassan left his war-torn country of Sudan in 2016 to seek a better life and career opportunities in the US. Even though he had a green card and a degree in architecture, he couldn’t find a job in his field, so he took a customer service position in the airline industry working 14-17 hours a day to support himself and his family.

Then a friend told him about MIU’s new Master’s in Software Development program and encouraged him to apply. Mohamed knew he had to earn a US degree to find a better job and, after doing some research, he realized the IT job market offered great opportunities. MIU’s master’s program does not require experience in software development, and Mohamed passed the aptitude test for problem solving skills and enrolled in the summer of 2019.

“Software development is nice, it’s interesting and beautiful, and I enjoy working with computers,” he said. “The fun part is that it is challenging, and I love dedicating myself to something that stimulates me intellectually.”

Mohamed only knew about meditation from movies and TV shows, but when he learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique he realized it helps him with fatigue and exam anxiety.

“Meditating for 15 or 20 minutes settles me down and helps me focus,” said Mohamed. “I think it will help when I graduate, move to a new city to start a new job, and have to learn everything about a new company and environment.”

Mohamed feels confident he can find a job because he is gaining the most up-to-date knowledge in software development.

“To study for one year and get an interesting and challenging job that starts at $65,000 instead of $40,000, work 8 hours a day versus 17 hours, and have paid holidays and health insurance, that’s great!”

Mohamed is finishing his courses in August and will be applying for JavaScript developer positions.

MIU Offers Three New Online Degree Programs This Fall

MIU Offers Three New Online Degree Programs This Fall

The audio/video booth in Dalby Hall is now equipped with sophisticated equipment for live-streaming online courses

The number of students in online programs is expected to continue growing

Students in an aromatherapy class (pre-COVID-19)

Creative writing students with faculty member Leah Waller (pre-COVID-19)

MIU is launching three new master’s programs this fall, bringing the total number of degrees available online to 12.

The management department is presenting a master’s degree in leadership and conflict resolution, which will aim to train students in leading one’s workplace toward a harmonious and conflict-free environment. This program is unique because it integrates inner transformation with practical strategies to resolve conflicts that arise daily in the workplace and elsewhere.

Another graduate program launching in the fall is an MS in aromatherapy, which will integrate the science of essential oils with Maharishi AyurVeda® and modern medicine. The program will focus on the therapeutic uses of essential oils and will be the only MS in aromatherapy in the country that is accredited by one of the six official regional accrediting bodies. One of the goals of the program is to have students understand common diseases from the modern medical perspective.

“Most people who come for alternative therapies, including Ayurveda and aromatherapy, have chronic diseases and are looking for complementary and alternative options,” said Dr. Kormal Marwaha, co-director of the program. “This makes it really important for any wellness consultants, including aromatherapy practitioners, to understand the diseases their clients have and then make appropriate recommendations.”

One more graduate program being introduced is the low-residency MFA in creative writing, which will offer tracks in fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The program places a strong emphasis on the writer and the exploration of the creative process. Furthermore, a strong lineup of published authors will mentor students, including numerous local writers and MIU alumni.

“We’ve been seeing a surge in our online enrollment in recent years, and we’re expecting a further increase—upwards of 57 percent—for this fall,” said Rod Eason, vice president of enrollment. “Leading the way are our highly popular programs in integrative medicine, which bring together the most ancient and the most modern approaches to health and wellness in a complete educational package, suitable for existing healthcare professionals as well as those who may wish to launch upon a new career.”

In addition, the Cinematic Arts and New Media Department has just launched an online version of their BA program. The program is focused on helping students build a portfolio and find internships. Specializations include cinematic arts and film, digital music and sound design, and digital arts.

The Transcendental Meditation® technique and Consciousness-BasedSM education play important roles in all of these online programs. Visit MIU online learning to learn more about these and other programs.

MIU Changemakers Launch Podcast

MIU Changemakers Launch Podcast

The MIU podcast team, from left to right: Michael Sternfeld, Paul Morehead Jr., Jeremy Erdman, Jessica Mauro, Zack Bourque, and Virginia Lagunas

The poster for the first episode

Dr. Harry Grammer, the guest of the first show

A team of MIU students created a new podcast with the goal of spreading the word about MIU and highlighting powerful and significant changemakers across the globe. Called Mighty Fine Changemakers, the podcast plans to explore topics such as self-development, transformation of consciousness, and human evolution, featuring interviews with changemaking visionaries, inspiring artists, and brilliant thought leaders.

The show’s first guest was Dr. Harry Grammer, a nationwide activist and educator. He founded the community-based organization New Earth in 2004 and is helping to reform the justice system in Los Angeles County, California. In 2018 he was selected as one of 20 inaugural Obama Foundation Fellows from over 20,000 applicants in 191 countries.

New Earth runs education and counseling programs in detention centers, probation detention camps, and group homes, as well as the John Muir Charter School in partnership with YouthBuild USA. New Earth’s programs have reduced recidivism rates from 69 percent to 5 percent for full participants. Dr. Grammer’s interview was titled “Standing in Your Soul Truth.”

“One of the most impactful areas Dr. Grammer touched on was how you don’t wake up and say, ‘oh, there’s truth,’” said Paul Morehead Jr., “and how it takes a commitment to the discovery of an inner journey and sifting through layers of those stories within us.”

The idea for the podcast came from student Melanie Telego during an Open Space brainstorming event in March. As the COVID-19 lockdown hit the country, the timeliness of the podcast became apparent.

“We have plenty of ideas for future topics and guests,” said Jessica Mauro. “Whether it be topics of self-transformation and understanding trauma, sustainability and eco-friendly projects, the transformation of the prison and judicial systems, we all share the same passion for transforming ourselves as well as the world around us, and therefore seek out those guests who share that same value, no matter what field of work they apply it to.”

The podcast team includes students Jessica Mauro, Jeremy Erdman, Virginia Lagunas, Zack Bourque, along with adjunct faculty member Paul Morehead Jr., and MIU Changmakers liaison Michael Sternfeld.

The Mighty Fine Changemakers Podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify, and on MIU’s YouTube Channel, and is a collaboration with the David Lynch Foundation. Watch the episode with Dr. Grammer here.

Gareth Wallace—The Entrepreneurial Manager

Gareth Wallace—The Entrepreneurial Manager

MIU alumnus Peter Gareth Wallace

The Wallace family in India (from left to right: Gareth, Lila, Keith, Samantha, and Ted)

Gareth with his daughter, Tiana

MIU alumnus Peter Gareth Wallace recently began a new position at Aeron Lifestyle Technologies as manager of business development at their Fairfield headquarters.

Gareth received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from MIU and later his PhD in business management. During his studies, he spent several years in Europe researching his PhD dissertation as well as working with his father, Robert Keith Wallace, and brother, Ted Wallace, on various projects for Maharishi’s international organization.

He then worked for Maharishi Ayurveda Products International as director of project management, and oversaw the launch of a new brand of aromatherapy and cosmetic products for the German company Ayus.

Over the past five years Gareth has worked with several Fairfield-based companies. He helped increase sales for Overland Sheepskin as e-commerce operations manager, managed factory operations for Heavenly Organics, and oversaw marketing and e-commerce for Amrita Aromatherapy.

Gareth is interested in entrepreneurship, and he was able to gain experience in many areas of business while working for start-ups as well as small and midsize companies.

“There are a lot of areas of business I enjoy, including business operations, e-commerce, and marketing,” said Gareth. “I like working in a team and collaborating. It’s also nice to work for companies that add value to people’s lives.”

Gareth is also a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation® technique and taught the TM® technique in Guyana and Suriname for the David Lynch Foundation. His long-term practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi® programs has helped him in his managerial roles.

“When you work long hours as a business developer, meditation is critical,” he said. “It’s been a very useful technique to be more rested and help with the stress and pressure of being in business.”

In his current role, Gareth is looking forward to helping the company grow, working with their private label customers, and meeting the challenge of navigating the uncertainties of retail markets during the COVID-19 pandemic.