MUM student Carlton Ellis is the first student from the island country of Jamaica to attend the Computer Professionals program. Carlton holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Montego Bay Community College and has over ten years’ experience working as a programmer.
In 2017 Carlton saw a Facebook ad for MUM’s ComPro program. He had been looking for a scholarship abroad to earn a master’s degree and gain some international work experience. He was attracted to MUM’s program because he was able to defer his tuition payment until after he secures an internship with a U.S. company.
Carlton had never heard about the Transcendental Meditation® program, but after extensive online research he decided to give it a try. He applied to MUM and arrived in August 2017.
“Before coming here, my blood pressure was continuously climbing to new highs, but it is normal now,” said Carlton. “I feel more refreshed when I meditate and more energetic. This is not just TM; it is the holistic life here at MUM.”
While taking the Science of Creative Intelligence® course during his first month, Carlton became intrigued by the research on brain integration through the TM® technique, and five months later he completed the TM-Sidhi® program. “Before I learned TM I didn’t know I could meditate for even five minutes, but now I meditate two times a day for 20 minutes and it feels normal; it has been great,” he said.
Carlton feels his coursework and campus routine have helped him prepare for the demands of his new professional life. “You have to stay on track with your courses because of the block system; it’s training us how to focus and be on time,” he said. Carlton has been optimistic about finding an internship because he sees a lot of opportunities in the IT industry in the U.S. He was right, as he recently found a position as software developer with Meetings and Events International in Chicago, Illinois.
MBA student Merveille Djappi Tiani recently was named Most Outstanding Accounting Student at MUM by the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants. The MUM accounting faculty nominated him for the award based on his academic performance, professional behavior, and his ability to collaborate with others.
Merveille grew up in a small rural town in Cameroon and has always dreamed of achieving something big. In middle school he excelled in math and decided to become an accountant. Even though his parents wanted him to become a physician, he convinced them that he could be just as successful pursuing his dream.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and began working at a CPA firm. At the same time, he wanted to further his education, so he applied to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, a global organization of professional accountants based in the United Kingdom. After years of studying and passing exams, he recently became a member.
When he heard about MUM from an alumnus, he decided to take the next step in his education and enrolled in the MBA in SAP accounting program. Merveille was pleasantly surprised by the receptive atmosphere on campus. “People are so friendly; it’s like family,” he said. “I feel like home. I am sure I am going to miss the environment.” He has also found the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique beneficial. “TM helps you become calmer and be stress-free. It helps you to be you.”
Along with his classmates, Merveille participated in the Capstone online business simulation for graduate students, and his team finished in the top one percent. He recently completed his eight months of full-time study on campus and is currently looking for a fully-paid practical training internship in the Washington, D.C. area. At the same time, he is studying for the U.S. CPA exam and taking online classes in programming with the ultimate goal of becoming a financial analyst.
“Merveille is one of the very best students who has ever participated in the MBA program.” said Dr. Andrew Bargerstock, chair of the Department of Accounting, “He possesses a rare blend of exceptionally well-developed technical skills, an extraordinary passion for work in accounting and finance, a high level of commitment to achieve professional success, and a consistently pleasant style of interacting with people. I eagerly await how the next 5-10 years unfold for him.”
The Next Generation Bringing Consciousness-Based Education to the World
We know you’ll be inspired to learn about some of the younger staff now in leadership roles at MUM, and so we’re introducing four of them to you in this article. We will feature more talented staff in future profiles.
Just by their mere membership in the post-Baby Boomer generations, they are ensuring MUM’s mainstream societal relevance and securing connectedness into the future.
But beyond their age, the administrators and faculty featured below, all in their 30’s and 40’s, are demonstrating a natural ability for enlightened communication and ethical leadership and policy-making — not to mention an ease with and receptivity to technology that is unknown to the generation before theirs. All of which gives confidence and satisfaction to those who are passing the torch.
Tiago Passos Lean Manager
Development and Alumni Affairs
Among our new talented leaders is the compassionate, sharp, and indefatigable Tiago Passos.
A native of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Passos works as Lean Manager on the Institutional Advancement Team (led by Brad Mylett, university Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs).
Lean Management is an approach to running an organization that supports continuous improvement, systematically seeking to achieve small, incremental changes in order to improve efficiency and quality.
As Lean Manager, Passos learns of and defines underdeveloped processes to see where there is room for improvement; he often serves as a coach and problem-solver; and he helps to bring about positive relationships among department personnel. Foremost, his lean thinking prioritizes the student experience: How can we attract the best and brightest people here? How can we inspire our alumni to donate most generously?
Passos has worked at MUM since 2009. He was an International Administration Counselor on the university’s Ambassador Project, which aided the transition of international students to university life. Passos has also been a marketing manager in both the Computer Science Professionals Program and the MUM marketing team.
A TM-Sidha who spent a year and a half on Purusha, Passos is now a family man who enjoys community life with his wife, Carolina Passos — MUM’s highly qualified Director of Human Resources who, by the way, merits her own interview, soon to come! — and sons Miguel, 7, and Gabriel, 4.
Mr. Passos’s dedication to the MUM mission runs deep. “People here know they are doing good for the world,” he says. “We have a dedicated group in our office, many of whom are devoted not only to accomplish their tasks but who are looking beyond that to becoming better human beings. We all have a very special reason to work at MUM.”
Co-dean of Admissions
Gwendolyn Stowe grew up in Fairfield and attended Maharishi School, learning Transcendental Meditation at the age of 10, then moving with her family to Cambridge, MA.
During her junior year at Middlebury College, Vermont, she longed to return to Fairfield. She traveled back for a semester of study at MUM and “loved Consciousness- Based education and SCI,” she recalls. That experience made a lasting impact.
As an MUM administrator for the past five years, Stowe has worked primarily in Admissions, shifting effortlessly between roles. Currently she manages eleven U.S. and International Admissions counselors and assistants.
Ms. Stowe implements marketing and advertising strategies to optimize the journey of student applicants from the first stages of outreach all the way through to enrollment. Often she consults with specific academic departments and with the Director of Marketing, Ron Barnett, on mission–critical projects, as well as producing and managing content for MUM’s website.
“I really enjoy the variety,” she enthuses. “I like dealing with all the different perspectives and understanding how it all fits together—optimizing the process and working to make it better. I enjoy the challenge of having to reconcile the differing ways departments see and do things. It takes a holistic vision.”
Though she left Fairfield and later returned, the University and its surrounding community has never been far from her heart. “I want to help fulfill Maharishi’s mission for education and provide all students the opportunity to grow in consciousness.”
BA Program Director and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Leah Waller’s responsibilities span the gamut— from in-the-stars creative to feet-on-the-ground practical—and demonstrate her formidable talent.
On the practical side, Waller works with department chairman Stuart Tanner, advising students, planning calendars, formulating program goals, coordinating initiatives with faculty to create events, and more—all aimed at improving the student experience.
And then there’s the creative writing and teaching side: her lifelong passion.
At times, Waller’s view of the meditating student writers is nothing short of astonishment. “They produce some of the most amazing creative work I’ve ever read,” she says. “I’ve rarely seen that level of quality, even when I was in my master’s program.”
There’s no substitute for natural ability, but credit must also go to students’ practice of Transcendental Meditation and the resulting expansion of waking state consciousness. “When you’re having the personal experience of transcending, you have the ability to go deeper into your writing,” says Waller. “The poems and stories I’m reading have brought me to tears, moved my heart, and made me laugh out loud. There’s a very different caliber of writer in this program.”
In order to come to MUM, Ms. Waller turned down a faculty position at Northern Arizona University, where she had received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2013. Prior to this, she earned a BA in Literature and Writing from MUM.
Waller cites Fairfield, known to many as an incubator of creative talent, as advantageous for writers. “The stress level here is significantly lower than in the city,” she says. “Everybody knows everybody. Honestly, what do we do but sit in living rooms and talk and connect with each other? At the end of the day, no matter where you are, that’s what you’re doing. The people in Fairfield are the most interesting of any place I’ve been.”
Waller herself has tapped deeply into that pool of creativity and connectivity in her own work. “I feel the pull here to write stories and poetry,” she says. “It’s the atmosphere that stirs up creativity. I’m incredibly grateful to live and work here.”
Director of Online and Continuing Education
As Director of Online and Continuing Education, which offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs as well as noncredit enrichment courses to students all over the world, Bei Liu has his hands full.
“We’re bringing the university to the next level,” says Bei. “American and worldwide students can now join and experience the unique education that’s only available from Maharishi University of Management.”
Working on developing his department has at times reminded Bei of running a startup business. “Certain resources are being used up front without necessarily— yet—seeing a return, at least in the short term,” he says. “But those critical, required steps are setting a solid and scalable foundation that will provide benefits for years to come.”
The Online and Continuing Education department integrates a number of educational technologies to help faculty create an engaging learning experience. Developing this capability has been a high priority for the university. “We’ve had so much understanding and support from MUM leadership,” says Bei. “They’ve seen that online learning has enormous application and that this is truly a field full of potential.”
Mr. Bei hails from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, China. He has lived in Fairfield and worked at MUM for ten years. In his spare time, he enjoys exercise, reading, movies, travel, and artistic pursuits. “I love to look at and create my own art, especially photography – seeing the world and people in a different way extends my horizons.”
Likewise, his vision for the department is visionary and expansive: “We’re creating a new paradigm of education, one that values creativity and innovation in conjunction with the deep principles of Consciousness-Based education. Everyone is very excited.”
More Interviews coming soon!
- Aster Hesse
- Mahmood Ali
- Gyan Shrosbree
- Johan Svenson
- Karen Aoki
- Patrik Siljestam
- Yali Jiang
- Maryam Naraghi,
- Nahom Abegaze
- Ingrid Bianco
- Corina Acosta
- Sultan Salah
- Carolina Passos
- Peter Kennedy
- Selin Ozbudak
- Amine Kouidar
Karen Ballinger joined the MUM Student Government in the fall of 2015 and has been a member ever since, which makes her the longest serving member in MUM’s history. Karen brings a wealth of organizational and leadership experience from Lone Star Community College in Houston, Texas, where she was a charter member of student government, managing editor of the student newspaper, and leader of several other student organizations. Currently she is MUM’s student body vice-president and a member of the Sustainability Committee, the Food Committee, the Queer Coalition, and the Pagan Club.
Karen learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique when she was ten years old, but it wasn’t until four decades later that she came to MUM, after raising three children and experiencing toxic mold exposure that left her disabled for years. She enrolled at MUM in 2014 to earn a business degree and regain her health. “I have experienced several jumps in healing,” she said. “I feel ten years younger. I gained back all those years I lost.”
Having graduated with a major in media and communications and a minor in sustainable living, Karen is currently pursuing her MBA in sustainable business part time. During the day, she splits her time between working for the business department and Student Activities.
Karen is passionate about making a difference, and during the past three years she has been writing a student government manual to maintain continuity and support for new members. She has also introduced student leadership training for student government members and other MUM departments. In addition, she helps organize student events and activities, such as the recent ChangeMakers event and Solis outdoor festival. “I want to make this university succeed,” she said. “My strength is that I connect people; to me that’s part of what a leader is.”
Karen’s ultimate goal is to open a chain of bread and breakfast/community centers that will serve as educational facilities for teaching sustainability and utilizing community resources. She will also integrate her previous education and experience in parent resource development by providing a place for families to gather and feel at home.