Raul Calderon

Raul Calderon

June 4, 2021 – Issue 575

Dr. Raul Calderon Jr.

A Comprehensive Approach to Student Well-being

MIU alumnus Raul Calderon Jr., PhD, was recently appointed as executive advisor to the International Organization of Health, Sports, and Kinesiology (IOHSK).

Raul Calderon’s career as a physical educator, health researcher, and sports and exercise professional began 40 years ago when he first arrived at MIU. He had competed in sports like basketball, soccer, and track and field since third grade, so he chose a bachelor’s degree in education and physical education, graduating in 1982. He then pursued an MA in exercise and sports science at the University of Iowa, and an MS and a PhD at MIU in health psychology.


Leading a four-week MIU leadership and adventure sports course on Maui, Hawaii, 2009

“My overall desire has always been to help students grow,” said Dr. Calderon. “MIU gave me a broad, comprehensive point of view and I continued to build on that. I am using that model of Consciousness-Based education and higher states of consciousness and study how different techniques can develop the mind/body connection, reduce stress, and lead to a healthier, happier, and longer life.”

At a canyoning adventure in the mountains of Ecuador, 2015

Dr. Calderon was an assistant professor at MIU between 2005 and 2012 in the Departments of Education and Exercise and Sports Science. He directed the MIU rock-climbing club and ran leadership and adventure sports trips with Professor Ken Daley.

For the the last seven years, Dr. Calderon has been teaching and researching at universities in South Korea, Vietnam, India, and Thailand. He has also spoken at numerous conferences on the psychological well-being and health of Asian students and the psychology of sports performance and has published the results of his research in scientific journals.

Giving a presentation on enhancing sport performance through development of mind and brain at Burapha University, Thailand, 2019

Dr. Calderon is currently on a sabbatical, visiting universities in Central America to offer his expertise and promote the IOHSK. He also plans to continue his research in Central and South America on the connections of health behaviors to psychological well-being.

Physical exercise and the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® programs are both integral parts of his daily routine. “It’s important to me to practice what I teach and be a role model for my students,” Dr. Calderon said.

At Kasetsart University, Thailand, Senior Students Research Project Presentations, where Dr. Calderon’s research group was presented with the best poster presentation award, 2020

Varsha Khatri

Varsha Khatri

May 28, 2021 – Issue 574

Varsha Khatri Publishes Book on Ayurveda and Nutrition

MIU alumna Varsha Khatri recently published a book titled Think Healthy, Choose Healthy: Make Healthier Dietary and Lifestyle Choices through the Holistic Approach of Nutrition and Ayurveda. The book covers areas of holistic living such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, and self-care and also addresses the importance of digestion and the immune system.

Varsha grew up in San Diego, California, and had wanted to be a physician. After her mother made a near miraculous recovery from a serious injury by practicing yoga asanas, Varsha became interested in studying a holistic approach to health. She discovered MIU at a college fair and decided to major in Maharishi AyurVeda®.

She enrolled at MIU in 2004 and experienced a major personal transformation from an under-confident student to a woman with a purpose. “When I came to MIU, I found my calling,” she said. “TM helped me with my anger and I became a happier person.”

In one of her Ayurveda classes on prevention, Varsha recognized the value of education in the prevention of disease. This led her to earn a graduate degree from JFK University in holistic education and nutrition. She began to integrate her knowledge of Ayurveda with the modern science of nutrition and decided to write a book about it.

With husband, Stan; son, Keyan; and daughter, Symran

Varsha realized that in order to have the job she wanted, she needed to create it for herself. When she relocated to London in the UK, she started her own business in 2012. At Illuminated Health she provides holistic nutrition consultations, teaches classes, and runs group programs on yoga, nutrition, Ayurveda, and digestion.

Based on her ten-year experience, she was finally ready to write her book last fall. “This book doesn’t give people a specific diet,” she said. “I talk about how you need to listen to your body and make your own choices. I give people a way to create their ideal wellness plan.”

Varsha is a mother of two young children, and she continues to value her practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique and the balance it brings to both her work and family life.

Ukrainian Couple

Ukrainian Couple

May 25, 2021 – Issue 573

Ukrainian Couple Finds Personal and Professional Fulfillment at MIU and Beyond

Eugene and Julia Rohozhnikov met while studying software engineering in Ukraine. Julia already had plans to apply to MIU, inspired by her cousin Kate, who attended the MS in Computer Science Program. Julia joined MIU after she graduated and Eugene soon followed.

The couple felt at home on the MIU campus and made lifelong friendships with classmates. “The MIU network is very strong, and we keep our bond all across the world,” said Eugene. “Whenever we travel, we visit dear MIU friends. They open their houses, prepare delicious traditional meals, and we spend hours chatting about life and reminiscing. One of my classmates, Boldkhuu Dandarvanchig from Mongolia, is officially part of our family now.”

At the MIU graduation with friend Boldkhuu Dandarvanchig

Both Eugene and Julia enjoy learning and challenging themselves, so they welcomed the variety of classes at MIU. “The courses are tightly related to real-world professional work requirements, and the professors are very knowledgeable and helpful,” said Julia. “We often worked in teams, sharing creative thought processes and getting great results.”

They found the Transcendental Meditation® program a valuable tool for maintaining a healthy body and state of mind. “TM helped us get the most out of our education and maintain a stable study-life balance,” said Julia.

Recently Julia and Eugene visited Julia’s cousin Kate near Seattle, Washington where Kate is currently a Senior Software Development Engineer at Microsoft. Kate is also a ComPro graduate and first inspired Julia to attend MIU.

Eugene and Julia graduated in 2017 and they now live in Baltimore, Maryland. Eugene started working as a junior developer and has now advanced to senior software engineer. His eagerness to stay up to date with the latest trends in technology has helped him advance at work and become a trusted adviser.

Julia works as lead quality assurance engineer and product owner and enjoys managing teams and working with customers. Since completing her degree at MIU, she has accumulated an impressive collection of certifications and additional graduate degrees in the fields of project management and IT.

Julia and Eugene love to travel and are planning to return to MIU for its 50th anniversary and the ComPro program’s 25th anniversary in September.

Michael Sternfeld

Michael Sternfeld

May 17, 2021 – Issue 572

Michael Sternfeld On a Ramayan Quest

Michael Sternfeld, a professional dancer with the Chicago Movement Company, moved to Fairfield in 1983 and completed the master’s program in the Science of Creative Intelligence® in 1989 at MIU.

Michael had two interests, dance and great heroic stories, so he decided to write two thesis papers: one about consciousness as the source of movement and another about the structure of myth in consciousness. Inspired by Maharishi’s insights, he also developed a deep desire to create a theatrical production of the Ramayan.

His first production of the great Indian epic took place in 1993 at Maharishi School, where he co-directed a cast of 400 students in a stage play. In 1995 and ’96 he created an adventure theme park based on the Ramayan in Vedic City.

Michael directing Maharishi School students in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome at the 1993 production, The Coming of Ram Raj

A few years later he embarked on his opus, the first complete audio recording of the unabridged version of the Ramayan of Valmiki. The project took seven years to complete, resulted in the world’s longest audiobook with a run time of 75 hours, and received the 2004 Outstanding Project of the Year award by Humanities Iowa/National Endowment for the Humanities.

At the same time, Michael also pursued his interest in dance and became a certified somatic movement therapist. Michael feels very fortunate to have made a career out of the subjects he studied during his master’s program at MIU.

Michael joins the Ramayana performers from Thailand at the World Ramayana Conference in Jabalpur, India, 2017

“I was always surprised how my deep dive into Vedic wisdom during my MA in SCI sparked such a wellspring of creativity,” said Michael. “But what amazed me even more is that these impulses translated into practical career paths that have continued to grow over the last 30 years.”

Michael has also taught several continuing education courses at MIU, spoken at international conferences, developed executive leadership programs, and published articles in academic journals—all about the Ramayan.

With students at an MIU ChangeMakers event in 2018

When asked about what he, a Westerner, brings to the study of the Ramayan, he replied, “We have a unique specialty here at MIU. We learn to go to that source level where all the impulses originate. This brings out a fresh, Consciousness-Based approach to knowledge.”

During the past 40 years Michael has produced over 400 events, courses, and pieces of content. In addition to his work with the Ramayan, he has put on events for MIU and the David Lynch Foundation, including large fundraising concerts with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Donovan.

Watch Michael’s talk on the Ramayan and leadership here.

Raja Hassan Raza

Raja Hassan Raza

May 7, 2021 – Issue 571 

Raja Hassan Raza

Making Dreams Come True 

Raja visiting Chicago on his way to MIU

Raja Hassan Raza joined MIU’s MS in Computer Science Program last November, and soon he will be looking for a position for his curricular practical training while he finishes the rest of his degree via distance education.

Growing up in Pakistan, Raja had wanted to join the army from a young age. He worked hard in school earning top grades and by the time he graduated from the University of Technology and Engineering in Taxila, he landed a job in the IT department of the Pakistan Air Force, where he helped develop a flight simulation application.

“I consider myself very lucky,” he said. “I got a job at the Air Force before I finished my degree; it’s a big achievement for me.”

While completing his undergraduate degree, Raja taught himself web development and worked through the popular online freelance marketplace Fiverr, helping over 300 international clients, including companies in the US and Canada.

With his colleagues from the Pakistan Air Force

Raja heard about MIU from a university classmate. He wanted to advance his education and become a Java developer. He liked the financial aid package and the block system and he applied. “It’s much easier to study when we are focused on only one subject at a time,” he said.

Raja also appreciates the comprehensive approach to education that not only features qualified faculty, but also extensive career development and personal growth, such as the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique.

“I believe that meditation is good for your mental relaxation,” he said. “MIU offers a higher quality of education because it focuses on the students and allows them to pursue a calmness of spirit.”

In his free time, Raja likes to play cricket, soccer, and badminton and learning new sports such as tennis.​