Zaria Spell—From Family Videos to Documentaries

Zaria Spell—From Family Videos to Documentaries

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Second-year student Zaria Spell has an ambitious plan to write a memoir and produce a documentary on African American heritage, including her own family, before she graduates.

MIU student Zaria Spell

Zaria received her first introduction to filmmaking from her stepfather, who encouraged her to help edit the movies he made about the family’s adventures and vacations. In middle school she made her first solo project, a documentary about the history of the hijab, which made it to the Florida State History Fair.

Celebrating the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos with Student Activities

Like many students, Zaria discovered MIU on Facebook and, after attending a Visitors Weekend in April 2019, she enrolled in the fall. “The practice of meditation, healthy food, and diverse student body were all features that spoke to me,” she said. “I love having the support of a spiritual environment that has allowed me to blossom and explore my talents.” She feels the class in memoir writing she took with Professor Nynke Passi has been especially instrumental in building her confidence as a writer.

Zaria is pursuing the BFA program in creative writing and a minor in cinematic arts and new media. She enjoys discovering her talents and applying them to her various creative projects. Her long-term goal is to highlight cultural and social issues that do not get adequate attention.

Helping international students practice their English with the English Buddy Club

The practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique has helped Zaria in her self-awareness and creativity. “It’s the easiest meditation I have ever done,” she said. “It’s so incredibly simple and I love that.”

In addition to writing and filmmaking, Zaria enjoys reading, dancing, and singing, and in her free time she dabbles in astrology and other methods of self-exploration. Since last May, she has also served as cultural committee president of the MIU Student Government.

Chad Hays, MD, JD, Pursues MBA in Sustainable Business

Chad Hays, MD, JD, Pursues MBA in Sustainable Business

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When Chad Hays enrolled in MIU’s online Sustainable MBA program this fall, he already had three graduate degrees. He obtained his MD and master’s in public health degrees simultaneously at the University of Illinois while taking a two-year break to also get a law degree at the same school.

MIU student Dr. Chad Hays

All of his education has served him well over the past 15 years, as he worked as an urgent care and emergency room clinician, hospitalist, and primary care physician. He is also experienced in telemedicine and concierge medicine. More recently he has been involved with running a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility and working in an outpatient community clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, where he now lives and practices family medicine.

Chad with his wife Cerrie Gleason, Maharishi School alumna ‘98

Chad had been aware of the Transcendental Meditation® technique and Maharishi’s writings because his wife grew up in Fairfield and attended Maharishi School. He wanted to study business and, after some research and a campus visit, he started MIU’s MBA program. He enjoys the live online classes and meeting students from all over the world.

“It’s been very satisfying to learn more about the TM technique by taking the Science and Technology of Consciousness class along with my business courses and put everything I learn in the context of STC,” said Chad. He also appreciates his TM® practice, which helps him refresh twice a day and stay focused afterwards.

Chad is especially excited about studying entrepreneurship and sustainable business. “People are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, and the pandemic has shown what’s not sustainable, and that will be in the forefront of how we move forward as a society,” he said.

After he graduates, he plans to combine the knowledge he gains at MIU with his existing skillset and experience to create a new venture. He envisions introducing sustainability into his practice, consulting locally and globally, and supporting communities by promoting the practice of the TM program.

Candice Rankin—Turning Life into Art

Candice Rankin—Turning Life into Art

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Candice Rankin is a student with an eclectic mix of personal and professional backgrounds she can draw on in the BFA in creative writing program at MIU. She spent ten years pursuing acting in theater, television, and film, mostly in New York City, while attending various drama schools, including The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the oldest acting school in America.

MIU student Candice Rankin

Although she enjoyed performing, she became disillusioned with the business and the tiring lifestyle and moved to rural Florida, where she started a house painting business. Later she moved her business to Los Angeles, where she successfully specialized in faux finish surfaces.

Candice also spent time traveling around the world. She backpacked in India for six months, studied fish in the remote glaciers of Alaska for three months, and hiked 370 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route from France to northern Spain.

While on a tai chi and kung fu retreat in a Buddhist monastery in China, she shared her journals with her roommate, who suggested she pursue creative writing. When researching writing programs she discovered MIU, liked the block system and the focus on personal development, and applied. “It’s been an incredible three and a half years—I am so glad I did it,” she said.

“MIU has a wonderful group of professors who really don’t inhibit or censor you and allow you to go as deep and vulnerable as you are willing to within yourself. It has been a healing, expressively fulfilling, and creative journey,” said Candice. She has also enjoyed sharing ideas and workshopping her work with fellow students in the writing program.

Candice says that the Transcendental Meditation® technique has facilitated her writing process: “TM supports your overall functioning, patience, and creativity, and allows deeper ideas to come to the surface.”

Her favorite genre is creative non-fiction, and she has been working on a humorous memoir based on her childhood experiences and relationships throughout her life. She is graduating in June 2021 and is in the process of applying to MFA writing programs around the country.

Dr. Robert Boyer Publishes Book on Consciousness and Quantum Theory

Dr. Robert Boyer Publishes Book on Consciousness and Quantum Theory

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Former MIU Professor Robert Boyer’s book on consciousness and quantum theory was recently published by Routledge India. Titled Pointless: The Reality Behind Quantum Theory, the book offers a holistic interpretation of quantum theory, based on recent advances from physics, consciousness studies, and Vedic ScienceSM.

Dr. Robert Boyer

“This book systematically probes deep into the relationship of matter, mind, and consciousness to provide bridging concepts between Maharishi’s re-clarification of ancient Vedic Science and his work with modern science,” said Dr. Boyer.

The cover of Pointless: The Reality Behind Quantum Theory

Robert Boyer earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA, became a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and completed a master’s degree in the Science of Creative Intelligence® at Maharishi European Research University in Switzerland. After earning his doctorate in cognitive psychology at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Boyer joined MIU as a full-time faculty member, teaching in the psychology and neuroscience programs. During the past 30 years, he has worked in community mental health and private practice as a psychologist in the southeast Iowa area.

Dr. Boyer has been an avid researcher of Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM and has published numerous journal articles. Pointless is his fourth book exploring the consciousness-mind-matter relationship from the perspectives of modern science and Vedic Science.

His second major field of interest and expertise is communication. “The two things most needed are development of consciousness and development of communication skills,” said Dr. Boyer. “Healthy communication is one of the most important tools for good family and work relationships and a key aspect of mental health counseling that is much needed in today’s world.”

Dr. Boyer has also written three books on a systematic approach to communication, which focus on the relationship between heart and mind, drawing from Maharishi’s translation and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. He now serves as adjunct faculty and consultant with MIU, teaching classes in communication skills. You can find out more about his work on his website at bridgetounity.com.

Shagai Nyamdorj—Training 10,000 Software Engineers in Mongolia

Shagai Nyamdorj—Training 10,000 Software Engineers in Mongolia

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Shagai Nyamdorj joined MIU’s ComPro program in 2011 after one of his co-workers in Mongolia applied. In his application essay he described his main goals as increasing his knowledge base and making a difference in the lives of others.

MIU graduate Shagai Nyamdorj

Since he graduated in 2014, Shagai has worked diligently towards achieving those goals. Three years ago he founded Nest Academy, a school that teaches middle school and high school students programming skills and computational thinking. “Our mission is to coach 10,000 young talents to become world class software engineers,” he said. “Once we have perfected the plan and the setup, we hope to expand to other countries as well.”

Young Nest Academy students learning Javascript

In addition, through Nest Academy’s partner company, Nest Solutions, they will match these young developers with startup companies in the US and other countries. “I want to teach our young generation to improve their lives, pursue their dreams, and make a difference in our country and the world,” said Shagai.

Shagai has found his education at MIU to be the perfect bridge to achieving his goals. The full-time paid curricular practical training aspect of the ComPro program was especially valuable because it allowed him to gain real-world experience with a US company while continuing to take computer science classes via distance education.

Mongolian design students focusing on accessibility standards

After completing his on-campus studies he secured an internship at well-known financial services company Shazam. Later he worked as a senior software engineer at Amazon before starting his own company. “I had researched similar programs, but realized MIU’s was far more valuable compared to others,” he said.

He also appreciated the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique being part of his daily routine at MIU and going forward. “TM improves my sleep quality and makes me calmer in stressful situations,” he said. “I think it also helps us become more joyful and happy.”

Olivia Lopez—Teaching TM from Coast to Coast

Olivia Lopez—Teaching TM from Coast to Coast

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MIU alumna Olivia Lopez was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, lived in Germany for ten years, and arrived in Fairfield in 2003 to enter ninth grade at Maharishi School while her mother enrolled at MIU. Although the move came with a lot of challenges, Olivia felt right at home. The nourishing environment encouraged her to study at MIU and complete an MBA in sustainable business in 2011.

MIU alumna Olivia Lopez

Olivia, whose parents and stepfather are teachers of the TM® technique, had always wanted to become a teacher herself and, during her studies at MIU, she attended a Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course. Her first major teaching opportunity came from the David Lynch Foundation Quiet Time program in the San Francisco public school system. “It was exciting and rewarding to teach TM. I knew I had a purpose there,” said Olivia.

With her father, Dr. Alfred Lopez, at her MIU graduation

As a full-time teacher of the TM technique, Olivia relocated several times in the past ten years to open or run new centers in San Diego, Beverly Hills, and Orlando. She also had the chance to serve as assistant course leader on a Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course.

With her mother, Laurina, and stepfather, Bolton Carroll

“I love teaching TM because I can help people feel a sense of calmness and peace,” said Olivia. “I want to give them something no one can take away from them. It has helped me get through so many changes and moves, especially during the challenging time in the world right now.”

At a San Francisco Quiet Time event with Barry Zito, former professional baseball player and musician

Olivia currently works in the Tampa, Florida, area teaching one-on-one and utilizing video conferencing tools to connect with new and former students. She has particularly enjoyed instructing several new online MIU students and sharing her MIU experiences with them. “MIU gave me the foundation to let me be who I want to be in the world,” said Olivia “I am so grateful to all my professors who believed in me and all the lifelong friendships I gained at MIU.”