Leo Alexander III— Connecting the African American Diaspora with Africa through Business

Leo Alexander III— Connecting the African American Diaspora with Africa through Business

August 9, 2021 • ISSUE 584

Leo Alexander III
Connecting the African American Diaspora with Africa through Business

Leo Alexander III just graduated from MIU, earning a BA in applied arts and sciences with a specialization in business. For his senior project, he managed the construction of a greenhouse in Kenya, the installation of an irrigation system, and the transplantation of 1,000 strawberry plants. He has also implemented agroecological farming practices, such as water conservation, composting, and intercropping, while staying true to local agricultural techniques.

Although he was able to complete this project in a few months while being in Fairfield, the idea for the business goes back to his teenage years in Houston, Texas. When Leo was learning about African American history and the untapped economic opportunities on the African continent, especially in agriculture, he decided to somehow connect the African American community with Africa through business and investments.

The construction of the greenhouse in Kenya

While attending a community college in Colorado, he heard about MIU and the Concept to Market Institute and applied. Leo arrived in January 2019, spent three months at the MIU Student Farm in the summer, and in September headed to Africa for a four-month internship. He visited small farms in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya and talked to over 1,000 people about running a farm business and sustainable farming practices.

Leo feels that connecting to deeper states of consciousness with the Transcendental Meditation® technique played a large part in his ability to manifest his desire. “I couldn’t have done it without meditation and visualization,” he said. “TM helped me stay centered and focused on my goals.”

Finished greenhouse with drip irrigation

Leo used the connections he made in Kenya to come up with his business plan and help him with on-site management. To finance the project, he used the funds from his stock trading activities. His ultimate goal is to make the project profitable, scale up the operation, and use the profits to help others in the Black community take advantage of similar economic opportunities in Africa.

“This idea presents a new win-win opportunity for African Americans to lift their economic boat while simultaneously lifting the economic boat of Africa,” he said.

Water tank for irrigating the greenhouse

Michael T. Moore Expanding Renewable Energy in Fairfield

Michael T. Moore Expanding Renewable Energy in Fairfield

August 2, 2021 • ISSUE 583

Michael T. Moore
Expanding Renewable Energy in Fairfield

MIU alumnus Michael T. Moore was on his way to becoming a professional pilot, studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. The year was 1971, and Michael just learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique. When he heard about the brand new Maharishi International University in Santa Barbara, California, he packed up his bags and transferred. When MIU moved to Fairfield in 1974, Michael relocated as well.

Michael first earned a BA in interdisciplinary studies followed by an MA in higher education administration and an MBA from MIU. He worked in marketing for several Fairfield companies, including Maharishi Ayurveda Products International and USA Global Link.

At a wind installation in northwest Iowa

Michael feels fortunate to be among the first graduates of MIU. “What I got from MIU was a feeling of confidence, that you can do anything if you put your attention on it,” he said.

For the past 15 years, Michael has worked in the area of renewable energy, managing projects and the acquisition of land for both wind and solar installations. He has worked with landowners, land agents, environmental specialists, and engineers in 13 states and two provinces in Canada. He is proud of having saved dozens of family farms by providing them with extra income for the use of their land, and his projects currently light up some 1.5 million homes.

With Anne Walton (left) and Marg Dwyer (right) of the Southeast Iowa Sierra Club, promoting recycling at the Fairfield Farmers Market

Nowadays Michael spends much of his time working with the Southeast Iowa Sierra Club on their various projects to make Fairfield more sustainable. He is heading the chapter’s effort to help Fairfield transition to 100 percent renewable energy. He has been coordinating with MIU and the City of Fairfield and approaching local businesses and organizations for support.

“We are looking at ways to see how the city can be powered by solar energy,” said Michael. “I would like to see that happen in the next four years.”

Michael is also volunteering with the Alumni Association and MIU’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Zhang Gaocheng Computer Science Alumnus and Daoist Master

Zhang Gaocheng Computer Science Alumnus and Daoist Master

July 23, 2021 • ISSUE 582

Zhang Gaocheng
Computer Science Alumnus and Daoist Master


Master Zhang Gaocheng is a graduate of MIU’s MS in Computer Science program. He is also a Daoist master, who over the past 20 years has revived the almost extinct Southern Sector of Daoism in China.

Master Zhang was on faculty at Zhejiang University in China in the 1980s when he learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique. In 1986 he learned about MIU’s holistic approach to education and decided to enroll.

“When I arrived at MIU, I was deeply touched by the genuine care and friendliness the MIU leaders, faculty, and staff gave us,” said Master Zhang.

The Tong Bai Gong Palaces

After graduating from MIU, he worked in the US and earned a green card. However, a few years later he returned to China to pursue his new goal. At a sacred Daoist site at Tiantai Mountain in Zhejiang province, he has built a cluster of 12 temples, known as Tong Bai Gong Palaces, and established the first Daoist college in the province. The palaces are among the most visited Daoist places in China.

Over the years, Master Zhang stayed in touch with MIU and in 2012 received a visit from MIU President Bevan Morris.

The college has hundreds of students who grow vegetables on the campus grounds and follow a vegetarian diet. They also perform Daoist ceremonies every day to prevent natural disasters, such as typhoons, which plague the area every year. Master Zhang said that these practices have protected Tiantai county from typhoons over the past 17 years.

With students at the Institute of Dao

“Like Maharishi’s Vedic knowledge, the Daoist practices have produced all of these miracles in the past many decades,” he said. “Maharishi’s Vedic knowledge is the knowledge of Dao.”

These achievements have attracted the attention of environmental organizations and world leaders, and Master Zhang spoke at a 2015 climate summit in Paris and met with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 2017. In the same year, he became the general secretary elect for the World Federation of Daoism.

Inside one of the palaces

One of the central aspects of Master Zhang’s mission is the protection of the environment. “The Chinese Daoists focused on the unity of human and nature,” he said. “The world is united now, we are united as one to protect our only home, planet Earth.”

For his contribution to the Daoist tradition, to education, and to world peace and harmony, MIU awarded Master Zhang with an honorary doctorate at the 2021 commencement ceremony. In his acceptance speech, Master Zhang invited all MIU alumni and students to stay at his complex for free. “Just mention TM and MIU,” he said.

The Tiantai Mountain

Jenna Doran — Discovering a Passion for the Environment

Jenna Doran — Discovering a Passion for the Environment

July 19 2021 – Issue 581

Jenna Doran —
Discovering a Passion for the Environment

Jenna Doran has been a sign language interpreter in the Moline, Illinois, school district for ten years. Her job involves interpreting for one deaf or hearing-impaired student all day, facilitating communication with teachers, and helping her student integrate with the rest of the class.

Last year Jenna decided to earn a bachelor’s degree online. She had practiced meditation and heard about MIU. She was drawn to the Transcendental Meditation® technique, along with the online degree programs and the short, two-hour drive to Fairfield from her home. Jenna enrolled in August 2019 and is majoring in applied arts and sciences with a minor in sustainable living.

Jenna with her six-year-old student

“Studying at MIU has helped me get to know myself more,” said Jenna. “I have a deeper experience and connection with my students and I am enjoying my job even more.” The practice of the TM® technique plays a large part in her transformation. “I realized how smoothly my work day goes when I practice twice a day.”

Jenna has a special interest in doing environmental work. Last year she began a campaign to encourage the use of washable lunch trays, instead of single-use styrofoam, at her stepson’s high school. She talked to the school board and called 30 similar schools about their practices. Soon the high school returned to using the washable trays.

Interpreting in a 2nd grade classroom in 2019

Jenna is particularly interested in composting. She is currently working with Iowa Waste Exchange to find a way to compost the food waste at the school where she is teaching.

“I think it’s fascinating that everything returns to where it comes from and then continues to help other things grow,” she said. “It’s silly that we throw away things that could go back into the ground, and it also costs money.”

After completing her bachelor’s degree, Jenna plans to enroll in MIU’s MBA in sustainable business.

Jenna growing strawberries in her garden

Aalok Prakash Shrivastava Outstanding Student in MBA

Aalok Prakash Shrivastava Outstanding Student in MBA

July 12 2021 – Issue 580

Aalok Prakash Shrivastava

Outstanding Student in MBA

Aalok Prakash Shrivastava grew up in New Delhi, India, surrounded by his extended family of parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, and cousins, who all practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique. From an early age, he knew someday he wanted to attend MIU, just like his cousin Ram and sister Amrita have.

Aalok earned a bachelor of technology in electrical engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology, India, and worked in the solar energy industry for a year. His interest in sustainability and desire to attend MIU led him to enroll in the MBA in Sustainable Business Program in 2018.

With classmates and Professor Ayako Huang

“Within a week of starting my MBA, I realized that Consciousness-Based education was more fulfilling than my previous education,” said Aalok. He enjoyed the small classroom size, the interactive learning experience, and the detailed feedback from his professors.

Aalok’s second goal was to complete the Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course, which he was able to incorporate into his study schedule and finish in February 2020. After the course he returned to India and co-taught a ten-week course, including the TM® technique, at MIT-World Peace University in Pune.

With his parents and two sisters at a Diwali holiday celebration in Fairfield

He finished his MBA courses in December 2020, and at the June 2021 commencement ceremony he received the Outstanding Student Award from the Business department. He is currently enrolled in the MA in Consciousness and Human Potential program.

“The experience of Consciousness-Based education, the Fairfield community, and being able to participate in group TM program all inspired me to stay,” he said.

After completing the master’s program, Aalok would like to earn a PhD in Maharishi Vedic Science℠ from MIU and participate in teaching the Vedic knowledge and the TM technique.