Samuel Bartolome Valiente—Outstanding Computer Science Student

Samuel Bartolome Valiente—Outstanding Computer Science Student

July 11, 2022 • ISSUE 631

Samuel Bartolome Valiente

Outstanding Computer Science Student

MIU graduate Samuel Bartolome Valiente grew up in Spain and learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique at the age of six. His father had encouraged him to apply to MIU, and they visited campus in 2003. In 2018 Samuelfinally applied.
 
Prior to enrolling at MIU, Samuel worked in the family’s retail business for 16 years. He has always enjoyed computers, so he decided to earn a BS in computer science at MIU.
 
“It was a really great program and my professors were amazing,” he said. “They allowed me to take some courses with the graduate students in the ComPro Program. I also felt supported during my stay by the faculty and staff.”

Samuel with Professors Anne Dow and Cathy Gorini and classmate Kidist Zihon

The block system of taking one course at a time was an extremely beneficial aspect of his education at MIU. It allowed him to immerse himself in one subject at a time and improve his retention of the material. He also enjoyed the healthy daily routine. “You are in an environment where it’s easy to practice TM; it’s part of your class.”
 
Samuel graduated this June with an Outstanding Student Award. For the first time in three years, he was able to return to Spain and reunite with his wife and daughter.
 
In July Samuel is returning to campus to complete his one-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students. He is joining the team that maintains the Computer Science Department’s online education platforms. He is excited to return to campus to continue learning and gaining valuable experience, and this time he will be able to bring his family.

Melissa Melchor—Creating Content for Personal Growth

Melissa Melchor—Creating Content for Personal Growth

July 4, 2022 • ISSUE 630

Melissa Melchor

Creating Content for Personal Growth

Melissa Melchor hails from El Paso, Texas, where she had attended a local community college as well as the University of Texas prior to coming to MIU. She didn’t feel connected to what she was learning there and began looking for a university that allowed her to explore her inner growth.
 
She found MIU through an Instagram ad and wanted to experience the lifestyle MIU was offering: regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation® program, healthy living, and a like-minded community.
 
Melissa came to MIU with the dream of becoming an online content creator, and her goal became tangible once she began taking writing and social media marketing classes. She gained both the skills and the self-confidence to achieve her goal.

At the 2022 Graduation Awards Ceremony

“After practicing the TM technique I began to believe in myself,” she said “MIU allows you to focus on your creativity and innate talents and encourages you to prioritize your individual expression and self-reflection. It helped me develop my sense of self and purpose.”
 
While exploring her personal development in the past, Melissa had found support from people sharing their own spiritual journeys on YouTube. This inspired her to create a podcast for her senior project, called “Wake Up to You,” which aims to support her listeners’ emotional and spiritual growth. She began creating her podcast episodes and designed her social media marketing strategy. 
 
“I hope that by sharing my own stories, I can inspire and empower people to do something they are passionate about,” she said. Melissa graduated in June with a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree and received an Outstanding Student Award.

Ash Pachauri, Global Sustainability and Public Health Advocate, Gives Commencement Address

Ash Pachauri, Global Sustainability and Public Health Advocate, Gives Commencement Address

June 27, 2022 • ISSUE 629

Ash Pachauri, Global Sustainability and Public Health Advocate, Gives Commencement Address

MIU graduated its largest class ever, 699 students, at its 45th commencement on June 18th. The class includes on-campus and online students as well as students at MIU’s sister institutions in South Africa and Ethiopia. Graduates come from 55 countries, including 245 from the US, 90 from Ethiopia, 62 from South Africa, 49 from Egypt, and 47 from Mongolia.
 
This year’s commencement speaker was Ash Pachauri, PhD, senior mentor of Protect the Planet (POP), a movement he co-founded with his late father Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, trailblazing climate change researcher. The mission of POP is to organize youth around the world to address the challenges of climate change through training, mentorship, project-based learning, and activism.

Dr. Pachauri giving the commencement address

Dr. Pachauri is a consultant for international organizations and collaborates with educational institutions. He has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UN, and the CDC and is currently a technical adviser to the World Health Organization on self-care global guidelines.
 
In his commencement address, Dr. Pachauri encouraged students to embrace the values of service, environmental stewardship, compassion, and inclusivity. He emphasized the interconnectedness of all humanity around the world and the importance of adopting new attitudes, values, and behaviors in order to solve the multitude of crises the planet faces.

President Hagelin presenting Dr. Pachauri his honorary degree

“We all live behind a legacy, and what your legacy will be is your choice,” he said. “A legacy is a part and a piece of yourself which you sow in the hearts, the minds, and the eternal souls of those who cross your path physically, virtually, spiritually, and in any way. What you give of yourself is what grows, never goes, and is eternal; it’s never replaced.”

Valedictorian Marie Greive leading the processional at the start of commencement

During the graduation ceremony, MIU awarded Dr. Pachauri an honorary doctoral degree in world peace for his lifelong dedication to serving his fellow human beings and for his goal of creating a healthy, regenerative world for all generations to come. During his stay in Fairfield, Dr. Pachauri also participated in the inauguration of the second phase of the MIU Solar MEG’Array.

Salutatorian Katherine Eid Wild presenting the class gift—a contribution to the renovation of the MIU swimming pool (photos by Ken West)

Angela Albrecht—Advocating for Trauma Survivors

Angela Albrecht—Advocating for Trauma Survivors

June 21, 2022 • ISSUE 628

Angela Albrecht

Advocating for Trauma Survivors

Angela Albrecht just completed her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree online and was the recipient of an Outstanding Student Award at this year’s graduation ceremonies.
 
Angela is a real estate investor who lives in the mountains of Virginia. Over the past 20 years she has taken on many roles to counsel and advocate for people who suffered trauma. She has worked as a minister, pastoral care specialist, and trauma informed specialist.
 
She earned an associate degree in legal studies, as well as degrees in holistic therapy and theology. After the loss of her husband due to cancer, she focused on raising her daughter, caring for her family, and acting as a hospice care volunteer and court-appointed special advocate for children.
 
Last year she decided to complete her bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to fulfill a dream neither her mother nor grandmother was able to achieve and to inspire her children, grandchildren, and all future generations to pursue their dreams.

Angela with one grandniece and two grandchildren

“A lot of what I have learned at MIU has always been part of my belief system,” she said. “MIU’s integration of ancient traditions, objective science, and the subjective experience of transcendental consciousness changed my belief into awareness.”
 
Angela has enjoyed attending her online classes and sharing experiences with fellow students. She found the weekend TM® Retreats especially beneficial for taking time for herself and recharging for her next course.
 
“After learning TM, I was transformed,” she said. “I finally experienced and understood the peace ‘which passeth all understanding’, which I was taught during my Christian upbringing.”
 
For her senior project, Angela created workshops on how the TM technique, along with Yoga asanas and breathing techniques, can mitigate the effects of individual and societal trauma. She will be offering these workshops to the public, social service offices, and schools in her community. She also plans to become a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique to be able to offer the experience of transcendental consciousness.

Yao Yao—The Art of Tea

Yao Yao—The Art of Tea

June 13, 2022 • ISSUE 627

Yao Yao—The Art of Tea

MIU student Yao Yao grew up in the province of Zhejiang in eastern China. As a child she studied classical Chinese art forms, including painting, calligraphy, and traditional dance.
 
Yao’s parents encouraged her to study marketing, but she realized she wanted to study subjects that had more immediate benefit to her life. About ten years ago she came to the US and became a certified yoga teacher and then a licensed sports massage therapist.

Demonstrating Qigong at a Montessori school in Forth Worth, Texas in 2017

At the same time, she developed new interests in other traditional Asian arts—Thai boxing and Chinese tea culture. She began studying the history, philosophy, and medicine of tea remotely with a teacher in China. Then she travelled to Beijing to study at the Xian Lai Wu Shi tea academy and became a certified tea art specialist. “I am passionate about tea,” she said. “It brings me joy and it brings other people joy.”
 
In the summer of 2021 Yao was scheduled to travel to China for another course on tea, but due to COVID travel restrictions her trip was cancelled at the last minute. She decided to expand her knowledge of agriculture and found MIU’s Regenerative Organic Agriculture Program. The nine-month certificate program seemed the perfect way to spend her time until she could return to China to study tea.

Performing a Chinese tea ceremony

She also began developing a business to export organic specialty teas from China and traveled around the country performing tea ceremonies in tea houses.
 
Yao enjoys the hands-on nature of the agriculture program and working on the MIU farm with fellow students. She has been sharing her stories and appreciation of tea with students and the Fairfield community.
 
Having practiced Buddhist mediation before, Yao appreciates the Transcendental Meditation® technique. “I see it as self-healing and self-improvement,” she said. “I recheck my health and mental state and I appreciate the time after class when we meditate.”

With the cow herd at the MIU farm