Edgard Camacho—Venezuelan Artist Finds Home in Iowa

Edgard Camacho—Venezuelan Artist Finds Home in Iowa

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MIU alumnus Edgard Camacho studied journalism in Venezuela and came to the US seeking political asylum in 2004. After spending eight years in Miami as an image consultant and wardrobe specialist in designer fashion, he decided to follow his dream and study art.

MIU graduate Edgard Camacho

He saw MIU on Facebook and welcomed the idea of personal transformation, a drug-free campus, and a new environment where he could focus on his art. Discovering that nationally known artist Jim Shrosbree headed the art department finalized his decision.

With art faculty and fellow students at his BFA exhibit

His first ceramics class with Professor Shrosbree changed Edgard’s life. Taking a physics class with Professor John Hagelin also influenced his artistic expression. “My approach became more abstract,” he said. “I am looking for subtlety and the unseen, and my tool is curiosity.”

Since he graduated in 2015, Edgard has been living in Des Moines, Iowa, where he currently works at Steven Vail Fine Arts, a gallery that represents international artists like himself. He has participated in several group shows in Iowa, including at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and solo exhibits at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Iowa State University.

Biomorfico II, 2019, acrylic on canvas by Edgard Camacho

The daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique is essential for his work, as it helps him stay attentive. “TM makes you more centered and focused on keeping the creativity flowing instead of the ego,” he said.

Edgard has made a lot of connections in the Iowa art scene since he moved here and appreciates the recognition and opportunities he has received, which he says reflect well on the quality of teaching at MIU’s art department. “Being at MIU sharpened my work because of the attention on the self,” he said. “The positive criticism given at MIU helps artists prepare for the criticism out in the world. I have never seen that in any other school.”

In the near future Edgard plans to apply to the MFA program at the University of Iowa.

New Book: The Coherence Effect

New Book: The Coherence Effect

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A new book, The Coherence Effect: Tapping into the Laws of Nature that Govern Health, Happiness, and Higher Brain Functioning, is now available, written by Robert Keith Wallace, Chair of MIU’s Department of Physiology and Health; attorney Jay Marcus; and Chris Clark, MD.

The cover of The Coherence Effect

Published by Armin Lear Press, the book serves as a practical guide to coherence-generating programs that have been shown in more than 600 scientific studies to result in health, happiness, and higher brain functioning.

Robert Keith Wallace, PhD

Robert Keith Wallace, PhD

Tony Nader, MD, PhD, the leader of the international Transcendental Meditation organization, wrote in his foreword: “This book illustrates a simple, yet profound law of nature governing health and human development—coherence heals.”

Jay Marcus, JD

Based on scientific studies, the book compares the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique and other forms of meditation on various psychological variables such as anxiety, negative emotions, and self-realization. In addition, the book tells stories of individuals who experienced great personal transformations through the TM® technique after failure with other programs.

Josh Griffith, an 11-time Emmy award-winning writer, had been doing another meditation program for a year, but was still so filled with stress that he quit writing. After learning the TM technique, he started writing again. “After TM, I felt like I was 25 and starting my career all over again. I thought I was a meditator before learning TM. Boy, was I wrong!” he said.

Chris Clark, MD

The six Ayurveda chapters contain the latest knowledge on Ayurveda, including the best foods and behavioral recommendations to boost immunity; a special one-week cleanse developed by Dr. Clark and Vaidya Manohar; and a quiz to determine the suitability of the cleanse based on the toxins in one’s body.

The Coherence Effect is also the first book with chapters on the benefits of listening to the Vedic recitations, which are now available on the Maharishi Veda App. The book’s website is www.CoherenceEffect.com. It can be purchased from MIU Press or Amazon.

Cheyanne Holliday Opens Vegan Restaurant to Support Animal Rights

Cheyanne Holliday Opens Vegan Restaurant to Support Animal Rights

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Cheyanne Holliday is an MIU alumna and founder of PEACE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting compassion towards animals. She is also owner of Plant, a vegan restaurant in Fairfield that supports her nonprofit.

Cheyanne visiting an animal sanctuary in Iowa where she regularly volunteers

Cheyanne grew up in Washington state eating the standard American diet until one day she had a health crisis. She became vegetarian and a few months later gave up all animal products. She began improving her diet and connecting with other vegans. She joined the Animal Save Movement, attended slaughterhouse vigils, and soon started her own animal rights group while still in high school.

Outside the restaurant Plant on the Fairfield Square

At the same time, ads for MIU started popping up on her Facebook feed. When she learned about MIU’s vegetarian cafeteria, the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and the one-course-at-a-time block system, she came to a Visitors Weekend and enrolled within a month.

When she came up with her plan to create a vegan restaurant, she took classes in the creative entrepreneurship major to help her get started. She began fundraising and opened the restaurant in December, 2019. Cheyanne received a lot of help from student volunteers and appreciates the support of the MIU community.

“Going to a university where meditation is standard practice twice a day, and everyone is going quiet and sinks into themselves, really forms a connection with people and a connection with yourself,” she said. “Transcendental Meditation brought me peace and stability at a time when things were unstable and I was trying to create something new.”

“The goal of the restaurant is to serve as an educational and community center for people wanting to create a transformation,” said Cheyanne. Her long-term mission is to create a program to assist large animal farms in abandoning animal agriculture and transitioning into greenhouses, vertical farms, and other sustainable alternatives. Her vision also includes purchasing a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), turning it into an animal sanctuary, and building an ecovillage around it.

 

Jesse and Natasha Berkowitz Celebrate 8th Anniversary of Los Angeles TM Center

Jesse and Natasha Berkowitz Celebrate 8th Anniversary of Los Angeles TM Center

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Jesse and Natasha Berkowitz met while working at MIU ten years ago. Jesse grew up in Fairfield and holds an MBA degree from MIU. Natasha came to the US from Latvia to pursue an academic career, earning a master’s in religious studies from the University of Iowa before discovering MIU and obtaining a second master’s in Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM.

MIU graduates Natasha and Jesse Berkowitz

After they both completed the Transcendental Meditation® Teacher Training Course, Jesse and Natasha married and opened a Transcendental Meditation Center in Los Angeles in 2012. With the help of teaching partner Erin Skipper, their center became one of the top three in the country, having taught the TM® technique to more than 5,300 people. They are now the longest-running active center in Los Angeles.

Jesse and Natasha with their daughters

Natasha had always envisioned a career in teaching, yet she finds her departure from academia provides a more fulfilling path. “We have had the opportunity of teaching so many people,” she said. “Instead of just giving them a philosophical understanding of life, we give them a tool to transform their lives.”

Jesse had always wanted to be a teacher of the TM technique, just like his parents, and is grateful for being able to pursue it full time. “Teaching is such an uplifting experience and you see the results right away,” he said. He attributes a lot of their success to the reputation of the TM technique and the branding and advertising efforts of the TM organization.

With their teaching partner, MIU alumna Erin Skipper, outside their center

They also discovered that celebrity endorsements from the likes of David Lynch and Jerry Seinfeld weigh a lot in Los Angeles. Many of their clients are in the film industry and see the TM technique as a tool for tapping into their creativity.

Jesse and Natasha are also raising two daughters, ages two and five, making them one of the few full-time TM teachers with young families. In the future, Jesse hopes to bring the TM program into more businesses. A few years ago he instructed the executive team at Marvel Studios and he sees great potential in teaching at organizations.

Christopher Smith—Exploring The Permanence of Structures

Christopher Smith—Exploring The Permanence of Structures

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MIU alumnus Christopher Smith graduated from the University of Massachusetts’ MFA program in ceramics this August and is currently working for ceramic artist Chris Gustin in South Dartmouth, MA.

MIU graduate Christopher Smith

A native of Massachusetts, Christopher enjoyed making art as a child, but after graduating from high school he put aside his dream of becoming an artist. Nine years later he saw a Facebook ad for MIU, attended a Visitors Weekend, and enrolled within a month.

With fellow MIU art students

Christopher had been interested in meditation and had tried a few techniques, but it wasn’t until he learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique that he found what he was looking for. “It was such an automatic process, very profound, immediate, and enjoyable,” he said.

Exploring the Sonoran Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

He decided to major in Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM, and spending time at MIU rekindled his love of art. He completed a second major in the BFA program and graduated in 2016.

“Having consciousness as the basis of education is important,” he said. “I have always been a good student, and I always enjoyed learning, but I never really enjoyed school. Seeing the difference at MIU made me hopeful and I was willing to try it. I really loved it.”

Christopher’s sculptures at his MFA exhibit

At the University of Massachusetts Christopher volunteered as the president of the ceramics club. As a result of his work in the club, he received a scholarship to conduct field research in the canyons of New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona, as well as historic sites like Chaco Canyon National Park. His research inspired some of the sculptures he created for his graduate thesis, which center around man-made and natural structures and how the timelessness of these structures creates a feeling of transcendence, permanence, and impermanence.

In the future Christopher would like to regularly visit art residencies and exchange ideas and techniques with fellow artists all over the country.

PhD Students Participate in Virtual Management Conference

PhD Students Participate in Virtual Management Conference

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Ten doctoral students from the College of Business Administration participated in the 80th Annual Conference of the Academy of Management in August. This was the Academy’s first virtual experience, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Academy of Management (AOM) is the preeminent professional association for management and organization scholars, with a membership of 20,000 professors and PhD students from over 120 countries.

PhD student Ayesha Sengupta

MIU professors have been attending and presenting at the conference for years. Since the live event was cancelled, scholarships from the Wege Foundation enabled ten PhD students to register for the conference in addition to the faculty participants.

Professor Sabita Sawhney

“I had the chance to attend the New Doctoral Student Consortium for 3 days,” said PhD student Ayesha Sengupta. “The participation in the sessions was quite large and the topics addressed were very relevant to any doctoral student. The focus included addressing the dilemmas and concerns while conducting research, the challenges while seeking and establishing a career in academia, how to plan your years during the doctoral program, the challenges in publication, and so on. The discussions were not generic, but instead very structured and precise. It gave me a deep insight into my own goals and plan for my doctoral degree and what my next steps can be afterwards.”

According to Professor Sabita Sawhney, director of the PhD program, the students successfully networked with fellow students around the world, received guidance from faculty at other universities, and realized that their experiences and challenges are shared by other PhD students. They also felt on par with students from other universities and were comfortable interacting with professors.

PhD student Nakita Bruno

“The AOM Conference was an inspiring and educational experience,” said PhD student Nakita Bruno. “It revealed to me the wider role that the field of academia has on society and how individual scholars with their varied interests together are making an impact in many facets of the human experience. I appreciated having the opportunity to connect with and learn from respected leaders in my field.”

PhD student Kennedy Kamfwa

“I learned a lot about becoming a research methodologist, publishing requirements, and managing academic collaborations,” said PhD student Kennedy Kamfwa. “The insights gained will help in crafting a research paper to launch a Consciousness-Based university for thousands of students in Africa.”

The students who participated in the conference can take advantage of their one-year membership to access the sessions they weren’t able to attend and continue networking with other members.