Gemechu Tiko’s Invitation to Join the MSD Program

“For anyone who wants to join MSD, I would say please, please, please join us!  Don’t worry about having a computer science background because they will teach you all the foundational knowledge you need. Just follow your passion to be a computer programmer. The whole education is set up to help you learn, and the block system is great because you take one course at a time, which helps you focus and gain deeper knowledge than with the traditional system. Here at MIU, everything is so nice and peaceful.” ~ Gemechu Tiko

Learn more about Gemechu and his journey from Ethiopia to MIU’s Masters in Software Development program.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: Tell us what it was like when you were growing up in Ethiopia.

Gemechu: My mother named me “Gemechu,” which means “happy.” Thanks to my name I always feel happy. Even in rough times, I keep a smile on my face and that smile and happiness keep me moving forward. I grew up in Addis Ababa with my mother, two brothers, and 3 sisters. When I was young my father moved to Minnesota where he worked in the Aerospace industry. We talked on the phone but we didn’t see each other for 20 years. I graduated from Mekelle University in 2019, and we reunited when he invited me to Minnesota.

CA: What was your experience when you came to the United States? 

Gemechu: When I saw snow for the first time, I was amazed. In Africa we never saw snow, so the cold weather was a shock at first. I arrived in February, and it was a new country, a new continent, and so cold, but my father helped me get through it. I adapted and now I actually enjoy the cold weather and snow as much as the sunny warm days.

I lived with my father and stepmother in Minnesota for two and half years while working for Amazon as a package delivery driver, but it wasn’t my life goal. I worked hard and adjusted to life in the USA. Then I joined the Master’s in Software Development program (MSD) in February 2022 with the goal of becoming the best possible software developer.

CA: What was your educational background?

Gemechu: My least favorite subject in high school was math. How you get your education changes the way you understand things, and my secondary school math teacher, Mr. Sentayehu, was the motivation for my new journey in mathematics. Since studying with him, math has become my favorite subject. My love of solving math and physics problems helped me graduate with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Mekelle University.

CA: Did you work as a mechanical engineer after college?

Gemechu: I was working, but not in my field of mechanical engineering.  There are very few jobs back home, so I came to the USA to spend time with my father and look for better job opportunities.  I took a computer science course in C++ on my own and really liked coding, so when I learned about MSD at MIU, I quickly applied to become a student.

CA: How did you learn about MSD?

Gemechu: I have a close family member who graduated from ComPro (MIU’s MS in Computer Science program) in 2020. When I told her I wanted to learn computer science and pursue my dream to become a programmer, she recommended MSD, which is similar to ComPro but doesn’t require a computer science background. So that’s how I heard about MIU.

CA: What was it like when you first arrived on campus?

Gemechu: I loved it here right away. Everyone was so friendly and helpful with finding my dorm and my room. On my first day, I met 5 students and within 5 or 10 minutes we became friends and have remained best friends to this day. I also love the healthy food and peaceful environment.

 

Gemechu and MSD classmates

CA: How are your professors?

Gemechu: Oh, they are so nice. One of them was you. We asked you so many questions and you answered without any hesitation.

Every instructor answers every question, even if we ask beyond the course, and even at night time if we try to communicate, they will answer our questions.  They are so helpful.

So far, we had Professor Muhyieddin, Professor Renuka, Professor Sanad, and Professor Cathy Gorini and I liked all of them.  Every instructor is great. Each has their own way of teaching a good lesson to us and they encourage us to ask questions. They never get tired of us asking the same question again and again and we ask a lot of questions.

CA: How’s your Transcendental Meditation practice? Are you feeling any benefits?

Gemechu: Transcendental Meditation was a new thing for me. I tried to meditate but at first, I felt distracted. Sometimes I fell asleep but my teacher explained that it’s okay to fall asleep.

After meditating, I feel more balanced and so peaceful. It helps me calm down and it’s not as difficult to study after practicing TM. I can absorb the knowledge and concentrate on the lectures in class and homework at night.

CA: I notice that some students are concerned that meditation might be a conflict with their religion. How do you feel about that?

Gemechu:  At first, I worried that it might be a conflict, but now I don’t worry at all. My professors answered my questions and explained that it’s not about religion, it’s about being in a deeper state of mind. They convinced me that TM does not have a relationship with any religion, so now I meditate twice a day without any worries.

CA: What are your plans when you graduate?

Gemechu: I have a wish to be a computer science expert so I will pursue my dream of being a software developer. My two brothers and one of my sisters moved to Minnesota and live with my father, so if it’s possible, I’d like to live near my family, but I’m willing to go anywhere in the U.S.

CA: What would you say to a student who is applying for MSD?

Gemechu: I would say please, please, please join the MSD program. Don’t worry about having a computer science background because they will teach you all the foundational knowledge you need. Just follow your passion to be a computer programmer. The whole education is set up to help you learn and the block system is great because you take one course at a time, which helps you focus and gain deeper knowledge than with the traditional system.

CA: Do you have any advice that will help students succeed in the MSD program?

Gemechu: It’s easy to make friends here because everyone is so friendly and having friends helps a lot, so don’t be a loner.  We share knowledge and information, work in teams and study groups, and work together on our assignments, so we really help each other. Even when you graduate and live outside of this environment and work as a software developer, you will always need to have good friends and family.

Here at MIU, everything is so nice and peaceful. Please come and join us.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Masters of Software Development program is an 18-month master’s degree program that accepts any US bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program.

 The MSD program offers two tracks:

*MSD Standard Track: an 18-month track that provides foundational courses designed to take students from beginner status to competency as software developers. 

 *MSD Accelerated Track: 12-month program designed for those who already have a strong aptitude for JavaScript coding and are fast learners.

APPLICATIONS FOR AUGUST 2022 ENTRY ARE DUE BY JULY 22nd! 

For more information call or text 800-563-9673. 

 

 

 

Congratulations to our 2022 Graduates!

Congratulations to our 2022 graduates!
Pictured are our MSD and Computer Science graduates who were able to attend the in-person ceremonies and celebration!
Best of luck to ALL of our wonderful graduates in their future endeavors!!
This could be you! Apply for our next entry now at msd.miu.edu/apply.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Masters of Software Development program is an 18-month master’s degree program that accepts any US bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program.

 The MSD program offers two tracks:

*The MSD Standard Track: an 18-month track that provides foundational courses designed to take students from beginner status to competency as software developers. 

 *The MSD Accelerated Track: 12-month program designed for those who already have a strong aptitude for JavaScript coding and are fast learners.

WE ARE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR AUGUST 2022 ENTRY NOW!

For more information call/text 800-563-9673 or email us at msd@miu.edu.

Michael Abayneh: Why a Devoted Family Man and Educated Professional Joined MSD

Meet Michael Girma Abayneh from Ethiopia. Michael has 3 higher degrees and comes to MSD with a great deal of professional experience,  in both Chemistry, and Accounting and Finance.  Michael took this courageous step to come to the USA and leave behind his beautiful wife and 5 children in order to advance his career and create a better life for his family. Learn about his first impressions of MIU, how he believes he can practice TM and still be a strong member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and how he hopes to create more efficiency in diversified companies through implementing software applications.

 Interview by Christine Albers

 Christine (CA): It’s great to have this opportunity to sit with you and learn how you are doing as a new student in the Masters of Software Development program (MSD), Michael. Let’s start with your first impression of MIU. What was that like for you?

Michael: The day I arrived at MIU I made three friends as soon as I got to my dorm room. They were my neighbors and the good thing is that we are still friends. Everyone, from the program coordinators to the senior students welcomed us and gave us all the information we needed, and it really helped us feel at home. I missed Ethiopia and my family but the environment was so welcoming that it helped me get over being homesick.

CA: How are your courses so far?

Michael: From my side, the courses are exactly what I was expecting on the Standard Track. With the block system, we focus on one specific course in detail and each course prepares us for the next one. So far, we had Introduction to Java, Procedural Programming, and Object-oriented Programming (OOP). These are foundational courses for MSD because we don’t have a background in computer science. If I was taking the Accelerated  Track, it wouldn’t be the same amount of detail; it would be in the form of a summary. The foundational courses are preparing us to join the fast track in August.

 CA: How do you like your professors?

Michael: Our current teacher is Dr. Renuka Mohanraj and before her was Dr. Muhyieddin Al-Tarawneh, who played a big role in preparing us for Dr. Renuka’s course. I really like them both. I have a background as a teacher and lecturer back home so I can figure out the requirements for the course. I give equal appreciation to both professors because they provide more than enough knowledge of their subjects.

 CA: When did you arrive in the US? And what were you doing prior to coming to MIU?

Michael: I arrived in the United States in July 2019 and lived with one of my sisters in St. Paul, Minnesota. I joined Wells Fargo Bank and worked as an operations clerk for about two years. Right before coming to MIU, I went back to Ethiopia to see my family and stayed for 2 months because I knew I wouldn’t be able to visit again for 12 months.

CA: You must really miss your family. Can you tell us more about them?

Michael: My wife is Lidia Yohannes and we were blessed with two sets of twins and a boy, five kids altogether. Life in Ethiopia is challenging because the economic instability is tough, but my wife is really strong and caring. She is taking care of herself and our kids, as well as my parents, who are her neighbors, and all this while she works as a customer service manager in a private commercial bank. It’s not easy for her to care for everyone, but she has help from a babysitter and a housekeeper. It was tough to leave my family, but I am always calling home and asking about their safety.

CA: Tell us about your childhood in Ethiopia.

Michael: I was born in the town of Debre Zeyit, which is now named Bishoftu. Like any native of a small town, I grew up playing happily with the neighborhood kids. I have six sisters but I am the only boy in the family. Since I don’t have any brothers, my father has always been my brother and my best friend. He worked as a master technician in Ethiopia and he was a former Ethiopian Air Force ground school instructor. My mom was an elementary school teacher. Both my parents are retired, and my father has more time to serve as a priest in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

CA:  Your relationship with your father sounds very special.

Michael: My father has been a great influence in my life. He served in the Ethiopian Church since he was a child and he taught me from childhood to serve the church in my spare time. From him, I inherited the habit of reading religious books, listening to spiritual songs, participating in holy mass, and volunteering at the church. For my father and me, the most important things in life are family and moral values.

CA: What are your sisters doing now?

Michael: Five of my sisters live in St. Paul and are all married, with kids, and working as nurses. One of my sisters still lives in Addis Ababa, working as a Customer Service Manager at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. She is also married and has 4 kids.

CA: What was your educational background and career in Ethiopia?

Michael: I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s of Science degree in Accounting and Finance.  I also have a diploma in Chemistry from college. I started my career as a teacher and became a unit leader and Vice Academic Director for a secondary school. After that, I joined Midroc Technology Group. Midroc has 20 sister companies, and I worked for 3 of them, Midroc Gold Mines,  PLC, and Elfora Agro-Industry as an accountant and senior accountant. My most recent position was at Unity University where I was a Lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Finance.

CA: You had very professional positions and a good career in Ethiopia. What inspired you to move to the US?

Michael: From childhood, I believed if someone goes to school, the knowledge should be used to solve problems, and it was my dream to find solutions for any problem that can be solved with diversified knowledge.  Here in the USA, there is great potential for technology-supported knowledge, and there are many good job opportunities.

CA: How did you hear about MIU and the MSD program and what inspired you to join MSD?

Michael: I heard about MSD from a friend of my brother-in-law in St. Paul. He said I should do it, even though I already went to three universities and have three degrees.  He said I need to go back to school in order to gain a good job in the USA. I have basic computer application skills and I’m eager to learn more about software applications.

Computer science makes all my previous education and knowledge meaningful because I can practice accounting more effectively. In the past, I worked for diversified companies and I believe that implementing new programming concepts will make that work more efficient.

With MSD, I’m finally putting myself on the right track, which will help me achieve my dream to become a competent, intelligent, and energetic software developer.

 CA: Are you enjoying your Transcendental Meditation practice?

 Michael: I grew up in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, so I’m serving the church in the same way as my father. On the surface, it may seem that there are contradictions with my religion, but beyond that, there are also a lot of similarities. I utilize TM because I’ve found it is not related to religion.  It’s a technique that helps me settle and focus in the classroom.

 CA: Do you ever feel that TM enhances your religion?

Michael: One should understand the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The doctrine is a bit rigid, and there is nothing easy or flexible in our religion, so it would be harder for followers of this religion to accept TM. That is the toughest part. I try to match the positive features of TM with my religion and my daily activity and that makes me able to do TM and feel good about it.

 CA: Do you notice any specific benefits from your TM practice?

Michael: Yes, TM has a lot of positive impact on my life. My mind is tired after classes and TM gives me some rest, which helps me gain more energy to study and focus on my homework in the evening.

CA: How did you enjoy the first introductory course, Science and Technology of Consciousness (STC)?

Michael: In our Science and Technology of Consciousness class we learned a lot of things to help us be healthy, such as having a good daily schedule and the value of getting enough sleep, getting exercise, and practicing TM.

We also learned about some basic universal principles, and when I think of them, I have a lot of positive thoughts. Some of the principles are “Harmony exists in diversity,” and “Do less and accomplish more.” These basic principles can be implemented in our life without contradicting our religion.

“Harmony exists in Diversity” holds my attention because of the current instability in my country which may be due to a lack of consciousness about what we are thinking and doing regarding diversification. Diversity could be a beautiful thing if accepted with full awareness.

CA: What would you say to someone who wants to enroll in the MSD program?

Michael: MSD is greater than my expectation. I really appreciate the way our professors treat us and how MSD graduates are getting jobs.

I like how the dorm proctors manage the dormitories. If they see something wrong in the kitchen or the bathroom, they post it on the group account so all of the students are informed and take care of it right away.

Everyone respects quiet hours in the dorms so we get enough sleep.

I also like the healthy vegetarian food in the cafeteria. My cholesterol was high before I came here and now it is normal, which is due to the healthy food. At this university, we learned that taking care of our health by getting proper rest and exercise actually helps us in our studies and future career.  There is a gym in our building and I manage to get in some exercise twice a week for 40 to 60 minutes. We also walk a lot during the day.

 CA: What are your plans when you graduate?

 Michael: I will graduate in August 2023 and plan to find a good software development position, and create a better life for myself and my family in America.

I am confident that Maharishi International University will add significant value to my life along with making me a competent, intelligent, energetic, and creative software developer who can serve the community.

CA: Michael, All of us at MIU wish you great success in finding a wonderful job and bringing your family to the USA. With your strong moral values and work ethic, you would be a great addition to any company.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Masters of Software Development program is an 18-month master’s degree program that accepts any US bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program.

 The MSD program offers two tracks:

*The MSD Standard Track: an 18-month track that provides foundational courses designed to take students from beginner status to competency as software developers. 

 *The MSD Accelerated Track: 12-month program designed for those who already have a strong aptitude for JavaScript coding and are fast learners.

WE ARE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR AUGUST 2022 ENTRY NOW!

For more information call or text 800-563-9673.

Watch our Latest Webinar


In our most recent webinar, you will learn all about our Master’s in Software Development program including how you can earn your MS in Software Development with:

  • No previous coding experience required
  • Any US equivalent Bachelor’s degree accepted
  • Dedicated support during your job search
  • All backed by our tuition refund guarantee

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out! You can call/text us at (641) 819-3013, or email us at msd@miu.edu!

Tsigab Berhe’s Path to Success

Tsigab BerheIt was such a pleasure to interview MSD student Tsigab Solomon Berhe from Eritrea, whose enthusiasm for life, learning, and education is contagious. This happy guy is always the first to raise his hand in class to discuss or answer questions. And he’s a poet as well! Learn more about Tsigab’s positive approach to life and his dedication to gaining knowledge, which will surely pave his path to success. (And be sure to read his poem at the end of the article).

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: Tell us about your childhood in Eritrea.

Tsigab: I had a lovely childhood in Eritrea, a beautiful country located in the horn of Africa. I was the first child, with five younger siblings, and we have a fantastic love between us in our family. That love is almost supernatural, second to none.

CA: How did your parents make a living?

Tsigab: My father was a soldier and my mother was a housewife. At some point life became difficult and they had financial and economic problems so my father left the country and found work in Israel. He has worked there for over 10 years so he can send money to the family. One sibling is working in Switzerland, and I am in the U.S., so now we are scattered like seeds all over the world, but we all connect frequently by phone.

CA: What kind of education did you receive in Eritrea?

Tsigab: I was born in a small town where the schooling was not very good and when I was in 8th grade, we moved to Adi-Keih, where I was able to attend a better school. After a while, my parents moved to a different city, and I lived by myself in a town called Senafe to complete Grade 9. There were a lot of highly intelligent students there and I knew I had to study hard to catch up and compete with them. All I needed to do was study.

CA: You were so young. How did you take care of yourself?

Tsigab: My parents sent me boxes of food and recipes on the bus so I could learn to cook for myself.

CA: How long did you live in Adi-Keih and what came next?

Tsigab: I finished grades 10 through 11 in Adi-Keih, and then, according to Eritrean law, I joined a military camp called SAWA where I completed one year of military training which included grade 12. It was my duty, even though life was difficult there because the weather was terrible and we were separated from our families and loved ones. However, the good thing is that it was a youth camp where students came from every corner of the country. We shared many things, such as cultural and traditional perspectives, and that made life a piece of cake.

CA: What did you do after military camp?

Tsigab:  After completing the military camp, I took the matriculation exam. It is tough because it determines what your future will be. Just to make a story short, I got the highest distinction mark of a 4.0 GPA.

I was assigned to Mai-Nefhi college in Asmara, the capital of the country, where I pursued my dream of studying computer science. I hoped to find a job after graduation, but it never happened.

CA: Congratulations on your score! Why was it difficult to find a job in Eritrea?

Tsigab: We cannot study what we want, and cannot find enough computers or internet access, and we cannot find employment after graduating from college. You can’t find a job because there are no channels to continue in your field. These things make life complicated, so a lot of people, including me, leave the country.  I knew that I wouldn’t find work and I wanted to enhance myself and get higher education.

CA: I understand that it is illegal to leave Eritrea. Is that true?

Tsigab: Yes, it is true that we are not allowed to leave the country, so I fled illegally and crossed into Egypt.

CA: Your family must miss you.

Tsigab: My parents miss me and I miss them, but because they are illiterate and uneducated, they want us to understand how lack of education makes life harder. They are too old to think of going back to school now, but they encourage us to keep on studying and achieve a better life, so they are proud that I am pursuing higher education. My parents are legally allowed to travel to Ethiopia or Sudan because they are older, and we hope to meet in the future after I finish my course.

CA: You mentioned that you lived in Egypt after graduating from college.  What were you doing there?

Tsigab: When I arrived in Egypt, I found about 15,000 Eritreans living there.  They left Eritrea while they were in junior high or high school, or were involved in other activities. As a consequence, they had very little education and wanted to study and learn as much as possible. I wanted to help them so I started my own private school and taught computer science and English. Eventually, I chose to come to the United States because I knew it was a land with many opportunities. It seemed like a promised land.

CA: Was it hard to leave your school?

Tsigab: Yes, it was very hard. I wished I could stay and help them but I knew I had to get a higher education level. I agree with Nelson Mandela who said that “education is the only weapon that can change the world.”

CA: Where did you land in the USA?

Tsigab: My point of entry was New York City and I went to Arizona where I have relatives. Then I took a job in California, where I was a dispatcher for a pilot freight company. I took calls from customers and answered emails from different branches throughout the U.S.

CA: How did you hear about the MSD program?

Tsigab: When I came to this country, I wanted higher education, but I had never heard of MIU.  My two relatives in Arizona told me they had graduated from MIU. One of them graduated from ComPro (M.S. in Computer Science) and the other from MSD. They told me that MIU is a nice place and I should go there. I looked at the MSD website and decided it would be a good place for me. My relatives also told me that I would learn Transcendental Meditation at MIU.

CA: What did your relatives say about the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM)?

Tsigab: They said it helped them in school. But meditation is a bit contradictory for us, as we are from the land of religion. We respect our religion, so when we are told to try something else that seems spiritual, we might not accept it until we feel it is okay. When my relatives told me about something called TM, I thought, what is this? I googled it and learned it is not a religion. It is something else. It’s a technique that anyone from any religion can practice and when I came here, I found it was fantastic.

CA: That’s great that you are finding that TM is fantastic. Can you tell how it has benefited you?

Tsigab: TM improves intelligence, creativity, and clear thinking. It’s helping me in school because I’m more energetic, motivated, and encouraged to study. I feel happy and relaxed, and I notice that good things come with that, including better relationships. I was very uptight before I learned TM, but now I’m always happy, and this helps me foster and maintain good relationships and do well in school.

CA: What would you say to prospective MSD students?

Tsigab: I would tell them this is a fantastic university and I have been enjoying everything here. I like the way MIU is designed to help you succeed. The campus is in a rural area, which is a great environment to gain higher education and be productive in your studies. If it was in a big city, it could be a problem with so many distractions.

The meditation helps with your studies and the food is vegetarian, organic, and healthy. Our dorms have exercise equipment,  and there’s a large gym for all the students so we can be physically fit.  We are encouraged to get plenty of rest so we are alert in class. Overall, it’s a healthy environment that helps you learn.

CA: What advice would you give to new students?

Tsigab: I was a good student all my life because I studied extremely hard. So, I would say, when you come to MIU, be prepared to focus and concentrate on your studies. If you are persistent, you can do well. Working hard and staying dedicated is the key. And be open to the university’s approach to education, which is all about helping you achieve success.

WHEN I ARRIVED

by Tsigab Berhe

It was above my expectation

A lovely place of attraction

With great teachers and professors

And the scent of knowledge

 

It is quite quiet

During the day and night

An amazing environment

And unbelievable place of enhancement

 

A well-designed system of education

With meditation that keeps your direction

A source of happiness and stillness

That leads to cosmic consciousness

 

It improves clarity

Increases productivity

For all students of this university

a university with great faculty

 

Yum, healthy and organic foods

All kinds of vegetables and fruits

Is what this university feeds

With all other healthy amenities

 

Here in Fairfield

In Iowa, a beautiful land

Where this university is located

Where knowledge is gained.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month Accelerated program or an 18-month Standard Track training program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program. Any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission.

 There are two tracks for MSD:

*The MSD Standard Track: an 18-month track that provides foundational courses designed to take students from beginner status to competency as software developers. 

 *The MSD Accelerated Track: 12-month program designed for those who have a strong aptitude for coding and are fast learners.

WE ARE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR AUGUST 2022 ENTRY NOW!

For more information call or text 800-563-9673.

Samuel Tumdedo: A Humanitarian’s Journey to the Masters in Software Development

It was an inspiring experience to interview Samuel Tumdedo, who came to the Masters of Software Development (MSD) program with an impressive background working for humanitarian organizations such as World Vision International, Samaritan’s Purse International, and Action Contre La Faim (ACF), where he managed water supply projects in refugee camps, and often in war zones. Samuel dedicated many years of his life to helping school children and refugee communities and has recently joined MSD to become a software developer. He plans to use his new skills to continue his work with humanitarian organizations. Learn more about this man and be prepared to be inspired!

Interview by Christine Albers

CA: Can you tell us a bit about your family and where you grew up?

Samuel: I was born and raised in the Hadiya zone of Ethiopia which is 235km from Addis Ababa, the capital to the south. I am the second of six siblings. My father and mother and four of my siblings are in Ethiopia. My other brother and sister are in Johannesburg, South Africa. My parents are farmers and commerce merchants, selling farm products. They always ask me to come back. And I do miss them and Ethiopia. The weather there is a kind of utopia. The temperature is always 60 to 70 degrees.

CA: What is your educational and career background?

Samuel: I attended the Arba Minch University in Ethiopia, where I studied hydraulic engineering for five years. After graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Engineering, I worked for about one and a half years in water supply and housing projects in the Hadiya zone of Ethiopia as a hydraulic engineer. After that, I joined World Vision International to work as an Infrastructure Engineer. I was promoted to Water Supply Design Engineer Officer and stayed with World Vision for almost six years. During that time, I was based in different parts of Ethiopia working in area development programs and also three and half years in Addis Ababa. I then took a managerial position with Action Contre La Faim (ACF) where I stayed for a year.

After my year at ACF, I had the opportunity to join Samaritan’s Purse International in South Sudan where I worked with Nubian refugees and South Sudanese host communities in Unity State. My South Sudanese experience was special in many ways; it was a war zone with extremely difficult weather conditions. There was no communication and we could only make a call if there was an emergency. There was so much stress and pressure as we were serving very large populations. One camp had 70,000 refugees, another had 40,000, and another housed 300,000. I was managing different projects for Samaritan’s Purse along with other humanitarian organizations in the cluster.

 

Samuel-Cambodian-school-children-opt

 

CA: You also worked in Cambodia. What took you there?

Samuel: I had the privilege of working in Cambodia which lost more than 3 million people during the Khmer Rouge genocide. I was a water supply, sanitation, and hygiene program manager for almost three years in Cambodia, while still working for Samaritan’s Purse International. When I think of Cambodia, I always think about how much war can damage a country’s economy, education, livelihoods and so much more. When I saw Cambodia, it was so sad. The population was not well educated. These people left their country and were refugees who came back, and then they were assigned to another place. They lived in fear. It was really depressing to see how they were tortured. My job was working for them on water supply, water quality tests, building reservoirs and water tanks, hygiene promotions, and education.

CA: You are such a compassionate and good-hearted person, Samuel. What inspired you to work for these humanitarian organizations?

Samuel: After graduating from college, I really wanted to help the world with my profession, which at that time was engineering.  I am a Christian, so I feel there is great value in helping people and communities in need. I thought, what is my true profession? And the answer that came to me was to advance the kingdom of God.

CA: You certainly did wonderful work during those years in Sudan and Cambodia. What inspired you to move to the United States?

Samuel: I’m really proud I worked there and had that experience. I had the privilege to learn about other global communities, cultures, religions, and specifically the South Sudanese community who are still suffering from unreached needs. There are so many untold stories about that young nation. I hope there might come a day when South Sudan can use its resources and rise as a nation.

However, the pressure of bringing facilities to needy people, who were coming from the war zone was extremely stressful and it wasn’t very safe to live there, so at some point, I was ready for a change. For so many years I was really stressed and I needed to stay in one place.

So, after working many years in humanitarian organizations I moved to the U.S. because I wanted to be more settled in one country.

CA: What was your experience when you arrived in the United States?  

Samuel: I started coming to the US in 2015 and working on IT projects with friends while continuing with humanitarian projects. When I first arrived, I had to adapt and learn everything new. I had to work to get to know people and gain entry into other communities. The newness of everything was a culture shock. Over time, I became more acclimated to life in the US and in 2019 I moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, with a plan to stay permanently.

CA: Were you able to find work in the US?

Samuel: When I came to the US, I needed to change my engineering career to Information Technology (IT). I had some inclination to technology and I love learning new programming languages. I had some knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL) so that was the first job I got in the USA. I explored more on the IT side and I learned a bit of Python programming language. I also had the opportunity to learn Cloud Computing.

I am now certified with four Amazon Web Services. Last year (2021), I became an AWS certified cloud practitioner, AWS certified solutions architect associate, AWS certified developer associate, and AWS certified Data Analytics Specialist.  But I still wanted to get out of the norm where I used to be. That is why I decided to stop, change my job, and get more education.  I felt that I could do better with software development and I decided to join Maharishi International University, and here I am in Iowa.

CA: What was your experience when you arrived at MIU?

Samuel: I really like MIU. It was totally new to me, but now it feels like something good.  For example, the food is different. I was a meat-eater but now I am eating vegetarian, and I like that it is healthy. Another thing is the TM technique. I’m not accumulating stress anymore because I have a way to release it. I feel more self-aware. I know what I’m doing and I can remember things better. I’m realizing those benefits now. The education system coupled with TM at the beginning and end of the day makes me feel like I am understanding something deeper, like I am more connected to God, and have a deeper appreciation of my own religion.

CA: What are your plans for the future?

Samuel: I will see what happens but I hope to be a strong software developer and work with humanitarian organizations where I can contribute to educational systems in underdeveloped countries.

CA: Thank you, Samuel. Getting to know you through this interview, I can see you are a beautiful person, and all of us at MIU wish you the very best success in your career and happiness in life.

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The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month Accelerated program or 18-month Standard Track training program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program and any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission. MSD is now accepting applications for the August 2022 entry.  For more information call or text 800-563-9673.

*The MSD Accelerated Track is the 12-month program for students who are accepted into the Standard Track and also pass the JavaScript Coding Test which demonstrates that they have an aptitude for coding and are fast learners.  The 18-month track provides additional foundational courses designed to take students from beginner status to competency as software developers. 

 

 

 

The Joy of Teaching at MIU – interview with MSD Professor Unubold Tumenbayar

Professor Unubold Tumenbayar graduated from MIU’s Master’s in Computer Science Professionals program (ComPro) in 2019 and landed a great job as a Java developer where he advanced his skills by working on multi-regional global applications in the Cloud. He returned to MIU in 2021 to teach students attending the MSD (Masters in Software development) program and ComPro. “The main thing I brought to MSD and Compro was Cloud-computing, and I also teach React and Database,” he says. But it’s the joy of living and teaching at MIU that inspired Unubold to return. Let’s learn more about Unubold and why he loves teaching aspiring computer professionals.

Interview by Christine Albers

CA: Can you tell us about your academic and computer science background?

Professor Unubold: I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2017 from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. It’s the biggest university in Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital city.

In Mongolia,  university students can choose their subjects so I took most of my classes in the first three years.  In my senior year, I had lots of free time so I worked at Axis-Systems as a Java Developer, so I was already working with Java while I was at the university in Mongolia.

CA: What inspired you to become a student at MIU?

Professor Unubold: In my last year at the university, in 2017, since I already had experience in Java, I thought, what’s next? Then in June, Professor Greg Guthrie came to the university and spoke to the students. He was the reason I came to MIU’s Computer Science program. I had applied to other universities, but after meeting Professor Guthrie and his wife in Mongolia, I was ready to go to MIU and I submitted my application immediately.

I joined Compro in October 2017 and everything started from there. I had lots of experience in software development, but this was different. I took MIU’s first Data Science Track because I wanted to learn something new.

CA: Did you find a good job when you finished ComPro?

Professor Unubold: I finished ComPro in 2019 and worked as a Java Developer at Sterling, which is headquartered in NY, but I worked in the Seattle branch.  During the interview for that job, I told them about MIU and the Big Data I learned here and that made them want to hire me because that technology was new. It was a great company to work in. They have an architecture team that does research and initiates technology improvement because new technologies give them an advantage.

I was at Sterling for 2 ½ years and it was there that I learned Cloud technologies, which provides a lot of opportunities for businesses and can make a big difference in our industry. If we look at job descriptions in the US, most of them will say it’s nice to have cloud experience. I knew this, but many developers didn’t know how cloud technologies make their jobs easier, so my goal was to help them learn these high-demand skills.  At first, I was only helping Mongolian developers, but then I realized that the MIU computer science students need to learn Cloud computing as well and I wanted to help them.

CA: How did you get the opportunity to join MIU Faculty?

Professor Unubold: Last April 2021, Professor Peter Vonderheide sent all the ComPro graduates an email announcing positions for professors for MSD (MIU’s Masters in Software Development program) and ComPro, and by May I was working here. One of the main reasons I joined MIU faculty is because I looked at the curriculum and the subjects that are taught, and I saw that they are practical. They are the kind of subjects anyone would want to learn in order to be a proficient software developer. And the environment at MIU is so peaceful and friendly.

CA: Transitioning from working a full-time job in Seattle to teaching computer science at MIU is a big change. How are you enjoying your teaching career?

Professor Unubold: Teaching is completely different from working in the field. I’ve been teaching for 6 or 7 months now, but when I think about the way I was teaching in the beginning, I realize how naïve I was. We taught Cloud computing for the first time, and everything was brand new technologies, so the first students felt overwhelmed. Then, on the last day of the course, I was able to pull it all together for them, and they told me, “Now it all makes sense.”

CA: What have you learned that makes you a better teacher?

Professor Unubold: I learned that when it comes to teaching it is vitally important to understand the audience, (the students). I need to be aware of how much experience they have and how much they don’t have and teach accordingly. You can’t prepare one course syllabus for all classes, because every class is different with students who vary in how much knowledge they have. I am always updating my courses based on my experience with the students.

CA: When you talk about teaching at MIU, you express a lot of joy. What is it about teaching that gives you so much happiness?

Professor Unubold:  Many things make me happy here. First of all, I enjoy the interaction with the students. I love teaching in person, in class, because I feel the atmosphere. I explain the concept and look at the students and I look at their eyes. You feel it if they understand or if they are confused, even if they don’t speak up, and I can see clearly by the look in their eyes whether they understand or not.

Another joy is when the students come to me and say how interesting the course was and they are thankful for all they learned.

I also enjoy the freedom I have here because there’s enough time to look into other new technologies that I want to teach. I was in the industry a year ago which means I  can help the students more because I know what works and what doesn’t, but there’s always new knowledge coming out. Learning the latest technologies allows me to keep the students up to date so that when they go out into the field they perform better.

CA: What do you like best about teaching MSD students?

Professor Unubold: I notice the determination in MSD students. They put everything into their studies. They are really serious about the program and being successful, and they work very hard. Software engineering requires more hard work than other careers and after my classes, I know my students will do well in the industry.

CA: Can you comment on why you are confident that your students will be ready for good jobs when they graduate?

Professor Unubold: I am super confident that they will be ready to handle a software development position when they graduate. I am running their final projects and when I see the results, it’s very impressive, as they develop a whole application from scratch, from A to Z, frontend to backend. Plus, during this final project, they research a new technology, and they integrate the project with new technology and Cloud services.

My first class already graduated, and one of my students contacted me on LinkedIn and said his technical interview was easy because he had already learned it in class.

CA: How do you feel about TM in your life and for the students?

Professor Unubold: I encourage students to practice TM because it helped me when I was a student. Meditation helped me stay focused and retain the knowledge. When I do TM, I feel more energized, it feels like I have more power.

CA: Do you have any advice for students who are applying for MSD?

Professor Unubold: I would tell them that they will learn lots of new knowledge, every day of the course. They can expect to get overwhelmed, but on graduation day they will feel like they are born again.  To me, the results of the final project demonstrate that they are software engineers because it pulls together everything they learned during the whole 12 to 18 months. They made it!

The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month Accelerated program or 18-month Standard Track training program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program and any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission. MSD is now accepting applications for the August 2022 entry.  For more information call or text 800-563-9673.

*The MSD Accelerated Track is the 12-month program for students who are accepted into the Standard Track and also pass the JavaScript Coding Test which demonstrates that they have an aptitude for coding and are fast learners.  The 18-month track provides additional foundational courses designed to take students from beginner status to competency as software developers. 

Why Professor Thao Huy Vu Wants to Share His 20 Years of Experience With MSD Students

Professor Thao MSDProfessor Thao Huy Vu, from Viet Nam, comes to the Masters of Software Development (MSD) faculty with 20 years of software engineering experience, including a distinguished career in software development, and the establishment of his own successful company in Viet Nam. He chose to join the MSD faculty with a sincere desire to share his knowledge with students and because he loves the MIU environment. Read more to learn about his wonderful journey to MIU as a former student and now a faculty member.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: Can you tell us about your childhood in Viet Nam and how it prepared you for a career in software engineering?

Professor Thao: I was born in a very poor farming area in Vietnam, however, I loved studying math when I was in elementary school and all through high school. I was always the best math student in my school and received several national awards for impoverished and talented students. Before attending Ho Chi Minh University, I did not even know what a computer was, I just knew that I wanted to become an engineer and that information technology was the hottest major at that time. After a year of college, I found that I loved programming.  I studied very hard and got a job as a software engineer when I graduated.

CA: What was your educational and professional background before coming to the USA?

Professor Thao: I received my BS in 2007 with a degree in Information Technology from Ho Chi Minh University of Technology. After graduation, I worked two years for a software company and then received a full scholarship to conduct research about computer networks at Myongji University in South Korea. I wrote a paper about Fault Tolerant Ethernet, which was published in the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) journal, regarding connecting to the internet if there is a problem with the Ethernet connection.

After finishing my Master’s Degree at Myongji University, I worked for a software company in South Korea where I was on a team that developed medical imaging software. I was one of the first people working on that project and I stayed for 4 ½  years. Our software was accepted for purchase in Korea and China, scheduled to sell in Japan and Europe, and finally, accepted by the FDA to sell in the USA.

CA: You had quite a distinguished career in South Korea. What inspired you to come to MIU and join the Computer Science Program (ComPro)?

Professor Thao: After I finished developing the medical imaging software, I didn’t see any more challenges. I wanted to learn more about software development and since the US is the origin of software engineering, I wanted to come here to study.

A friend told me about MIU’s Computer Science (ComPro) program. He had friends who graduated from ComPro and got great jobs developing software in companies like Microsoft and this was very motivating for me. I thought, this is my chance, so I applied for ComPro and became a student in 2015.

CA: Did you notice any benefits from practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) while you were a student and in your career?

Professor Thao: I had 10 years of software experience prior to arriving at MIU, and it was a very demanding career. Software engineering can be stressful and requires a lot of effort, and I couldn’t find a way to handle that. When I saw that TM was offered at MIU, I hoped it would help me relax and I was encouraged to become a student. I practiced TM regularly and it helped me focus and stay rested throughout the Computer Science program, which is a pretty intensive course. I am still a software engineer, and I love developing. TM allows me to relax and get deep rest so I can enjoy coding without the stress and fatigue.  

CA: Did you get that great job you were seeking, when you graduated with the MS in Computer Science?

Professor Thao: Yes, when I finished ComPro, I got a job as a Software Engineer with Operation Technology, Inc. in California for a year, then I moved to Thesys CAT LLC, a subsidiary of Thesys Technologies LLC, in New York. After a year at Thesys Technologies, I decided to go back to Viet Nam and create my own startup business, and within 2 years I developed an e-commerce system and launched my own company.

CA: How did you go from starting your own company in Viet Nam to joining the Masters of Software Development faculty at MIU?

Professor Thao: Last year I received an invitation from MIU to be an instructor in the Masters of Software Development department. I was able to accept the position because I had set up the technical part of my company in Viet Nam and my co-owner was able to run the company with the software I developed.  Technology is growing fast, and even faster since Covid, so many companies are shifting from using humans to using software to run their business, and our company is a perfect example of that.

CA: When did you arrive at MIU to teach the MSD courses?

Professor Thao: I came to MIU in July 2021 and assisted several MSD professors in teaching web application programming, mobile programming, cloud computing, and final projects. In March 2022, I will teach my first course in Server-Side Programming. This is great because I have experience in this field and used this technology in my work at each of my workplaces so I look forward to sharing my knowledge.

CA: How does it feel to be back at MIU?

Professor Thao: I’m excited to teach computer science to MSD students as I have 20 years of experience in the industry and I want to share everything I’ve learned. Plus, I like the environment at MIU because it is peaceful, friendly, and international. I feel like this is my home now and hope I can stay a long time, and that motivates me to do well in my job.

CA: How do you like teaching MSD students?

Professor Thao: I like the MSD students because they are all mature professionals and serious students. I want to transfer my knowledge to them in my courses and it’s interesting because they don’t have a background in computer science, so I have to think twice about how to teach them. I have to explain everything in a common language, which is a bit of a challenge, but it is very satisfying when they understand.

CA: Can you comment about the uniqueness of JavaScript and why it is the primary language taught in the Masters of Software Development program?

Professor Thao: JavaScript is the leading programming language in the world, plus it is easy to learn, which reduces the learning curve. In the past, it was only used on the front end of applications, but in recent years, the environment started using JavaScript for entire applications, both front end, and back end. For example, to work in Full Stack, we don’t need to hire two people because the back end also uses JavaScript. So, JavaScript is best for the new architecture, called microservices, which means that a big application can be divided into many small applications and each area is completely independent.

CA: What’s it like, teaching during Covid?

Professor Thao: With MSD students, I prefer that they come to class in person so I can work closely with them, see their coding immediately, and help correct any mistakes. We practice social distancing and everyone wears masks in the classroom. However, if a student is unhealthy, they can take the class online until they recover, so everyone is able to attend classes and not fall behind.

CA: What do you think is special about the MSD program?

Professor Thao: There are many special things about the MSD program. First,  the technical curriculum contains all the courses needed to cover the basic and fundamental knowledge of computer science. Secondly, the block system, where all the courses are taught one at a time, in one-month segments, helps them understand the fundamentals and gradually learn newer technologies. By the time they finish the program they have everything they need to know and the latest technologies for the market. Thirdly, I like the university’s system of using TM to improve the students’ awareness and ability to focus, which will help them expand their knowledge of technology.

CA: Can you expand on the benefits of practicing TM for the students?

Professor Thao: As you know, technology is changing very fast. Software developers must expand their knowledge almost every day. In the software industry, if programmers don’t expand, they go backward. To move forward, they will need a tool like TM in the workplace, so they can stay rested and fresh, have clear and focused minds, and continue to advance their technical knowledge.

CA:  Do you have any advice for students who are considering applying to the MSD program?

Professor Thao: I would tell new students that technology is our future and software development will require more and more software engineers in the market over time. If you want to change your career and become a software developer, and you are ready to put the effort and commitment into this program, now is the time to do it.  

MSD is an intensive program, but MIU provides three vital ways for students to succeed: 1) a curriculum with all the knowledge needed to become a proficient software developer,  2) an environment conducive for gaining that knowledge, and 3) the tools to develop consciousness so you can absorb and retain the knowledge and grow in self-development.

It’s a wonderful program, our graduates are getting great jobs, and we are here to help them every step of the way.  

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The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month Accelerated program or 18-month Standard Track training program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program and any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission. MSD is now accepting applications for the August 2022 entry.  For more information call or text 800-563-9673.

*The MSD Accelerated Track is the 12-month program for students who are accepted into the Standard Track and also pass the JavaScript Coding Test.

Kay Hazen: The Force Behind the Masters in Software Development

Kay Hazen MSDMeet Kay Hazen, the dynamic Program Manager for MIU’s Masters of Software Development (MSD)program.  Kay has a strong business and educational background, including working in Career Strategies for the MS in Computer Science (ComPro) for several years before joining MSD. Currently, Kay wears two hats, as both MSD Program Manager and Director of the MSD Career Strategies Workshop. With her solid experience and diverse skills, we are fortunate to have Kay onboard.  Let’s learn about Kay and all she does to ensure the success of the MSD program and its graduates.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: What are your responsibilities as Program Manager for MSD?

Kay: I make sure the program runs fluidly; from advertising to reviewing student applications, to making sure the students are comfortable when they arrive on campus. In addition, I run the Career Strategies Workshop. It’s the last course each student takes, so I’m involved every step of the way during their journey, from start to finish.

CA: The Career Strategies Workshop is a vital part of MSD, as every student’s entire goal is to get a great job when they graduate. What do you cover during this time?

Kay: During this 2-week workshop they learn how to find the position they want to apply for, write a professional resume, ask and answer questions during interviews, and write a follow-up thank-you note. These soft skills give them confidence in promoting themselves and handling interviews, so when they complete the workshop, they literally can’t wait to jump into the job search.

CA:  How do the students know where to apply? It’s a big world out there!

Kay: There might be 1,000’s of positions to choose from, but we help them decide where to apply. For example, do they want a corporate culture where they wear suits and ties and work with top-tier global consulting firms? Or do they prefer an informal setting where they can wear t-shirts and jeans? What are the technologies they will be working on? Where is the job located?  Do they want to live there? Is the company only offering a salary, or are benefits included? These are the things to consider before starting their job search.

CA: Do you teach them how to promote themselves on social media as well?

Kay: Definitely! They learn how to promote themselves online on sites such as LinkedIn, Dice, Indeed, and Career Builder. In addition, the MSD website has a landing page where recruiters can review their resumes, and we try to make sure the students only work with professional recruiters. We also encourage them to network with friends and associates who work in companies where they want to apply.

CA: How long does it take for MSD graduates to land a job?

Kay: In a good market the job search can take 3 to 6 months and at times, up to a year. However, our graduates are getting jobs quickly because they are well-prepared. They know what type of company they want to work in and have developed quality interviewing skills. Another advantage that our students have is that we partner with companies who seek the technical skills that our students have.

CA:  What is your success rate?

Kay: Our graduates are doing great! 100% of our 2020 and 2021 graduates have accepted positions at top US companies including Google, Citibank, USAA, Hays Companies, Boeing, and others, with an average annual pay of $95,000 (ranging from $75,000 to $135,000), while many of our 2022 graduates have already accepted great positions as well.

CA: What makes you confident that MSD graduates have the technical skills needed for the job market?

Kay: MSD is different from a typical computer science program where they learn many technologies but the courses are shallower. Our classes are specific. The MSD students learn JavaScript web development. It’s the front end and back end for web and IOS, so it’s more hands-on than other programs. Plus, with MIU’s block system, they take one course at a time so it’s easier to focus and retain the knowledge.

CA: I understand the courses are project-based. Can you describe how that works?

Kay: The students work on 9 to11 projects during the year, and each one is similar to projects they would have in an actual workplace. Approaching the problem as a real-life project develops and establishes their skills and helps make them proficient JavaScript web developers.

CA: What are companies looking for in new hires, and software developers in particular?

Kay: First of all, the applicant needs to have strong technical skills, but soft skills are also in high demand. Many times, companies choose someone who is confident and comfortable in their own skin. The employer knows they will be sitting with this person for two-thousand hours a year and they want to hire someone who is easy to be around, driven to succeed, and wants to continue to learn all that they can because learning new technologies never ends in the field of software development.

CA:  Is this why perfecting the interview process is important?

Kay: Very much so. During the interview process, our graduates have an opportunity to demonstrate their technical skills, but they can also demonstrate that they are team players who show up on time, are excited about the company and its projects, are dedicated and professional, and will bring those high standards to the workplace.

CA: What inspires you about working with MSD students?

Kay: I enjoy meeting people from all areas of the USA, and different countries and cultures, who have various perspectives on life. It is a joy to watch these students start a master’s program with little, if any, experience in developing software, and achieve a master’s degree and a life-changing new career.

They embark on this new path, leaving their jobs and families for 12 to 18 months to attend the Masters in Software Development program.   In the end, when they complete the program and find a great job, they are so happy they made that decision! They inspire me because they leave everything they know to come to this little town of Fairfield seeking higher education at MIU and take a chance on a new career path because they want a more fulfilling life, and they do it! It really is an honor to be a part of their journey.

Kay and Students at Picnic

The Masters of Software Development is an 18-month (12 months with technical experience) master’s degree program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program and any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission. Our program is currently accepting applications for our August and February entries. For more information please call or text us at 800-563-9673, or email us at msd@miu.edu.

*This article has been updated as of June 16th, 2022 to reflect current statistics.

 

 

Deborah Igaba – On Her Way to Becoming a Successful Software Developer

Deborah Igaba MSD student headshotOriginally from Kampala, Uganda, Deborah Igaba traveled to the United States with her mother and younger sister in 2020, joining her older sister and brother who were living in Centreville, Virginia.  In this interview Deborah discusses life on the MIU campus, her experience with Transcendental Meditation and how it helps organize her mind for coding, and why she recommends the Master’s in Software Development program (MSD) for prospective JavaScript web developers.  Let’s meet Deborah!

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA:  It’s wonderful that your entire family is living together in the USA, Deborah. Was it a culture shock when you arrived in Centreville, Virginia?

Deborah: It wasn’t too hard for us because we arrived during Covid and everything was quiet during that time. My older sister and brother were already living in Centreville, so our whole family was living together after some years, and we were very happy to be reunited.

CA: It’s wonderful that your mother moved to the United States with you. How did she adjust to living in the USA and Virginia? And how is everyone else in your family doing in the USA?

Deborah: It was hard for my mom. Imagine living your whole life in another place and then when you are older, moving to a completely different country. It was more difficult for her and I commend her for making such a big decision later in life. She’s doing great now and working as a nurse. My younger sister, who came with us, is in pharmacy school. My older sister is a pharmacist and my brother is a software engineer.

CA: What is your educational background?

Deborah: My undergraduate degree was in Civil Engineering which I studied back in Uganda. As part of my undergraduate curriculum, I had a chance to study the C++ programming language and that sparked my interest in the programming world. It was the very first time I encountered programming, but I knew wanted to pursue this career path in the future. As the years went by, my interest in computer programming grew.

CA: How did you learn about MIU?

 Deborah: I heard about MIU and the Masters in Software Development program (MSD) from my brother who graduated from the MS in Computer Science program (ComPro). He really enjoyed his time at MIU and recommended it highly. Now he has a great job working remotely for Cognizant. We are glad that he can live and work from home in Centreville, and our family can be together.

CA: What made you choose MIU instead of another university that teaches software development?

Deborah: I always wanted to be part of something that enabled me to maximize the full potential inside of me. When I read about the program and the teaching style at Maharishi University that involved Transcendental Meditation and the block system, I knew this was surely the place for me. Once the opportunity arose to apply for the MSD program, I decided to go for it!

CA: With your mother and sisters all in the medical field, were you tempted to go into pharmaceuticals?

Deborah: I’m not interested in working in the medical field, but I like to help people. Even during my programming career, I wanted to find a way to make a difference in this world. Right now, it’s too early to tell what I can do, but at the beginning of the course, I was interested in engineering, perhaps something like traffic simulation. There are programs that cause the traffic lights to time in synchrony, and all that is calculated, which fascinates me.

CA: Would you like to work remotely when you graduate?

Deborah: It’s different for people who come to the USA from another country. There is no state that we call home, so we can work in any state. But since my older sister lived in Centreville for 10 years and she knows it, and the rest of my family is living there, if I do have a choice, that is where I would like to live. But basically, I’m open to going anywhere.

CA: You started the program in August 2021. How far along are you now?

Deborah:  We have finished the foundational courses, which were a bit tough as there was a lot to cover in a short time. We are on our third course now, web application programming. I love it because it gives me a real feeling for what we will be doing as JavaScript web developers and how we will apply this knowledge. We are seeing the user experience – exactly what the user sees on the other end.

CA: Are you on the Accelerated or Standard Track?

Deborah: I’m on the 12-month Accelerated track, partly because I had C++ experience and because I did well enough on the entrance exam that they told me I could join the Accelerated Track.*

CA: How are your studies going?

Deborah: It’s challenging, and I have to put a lot of time into it, but it’s not impossible. I have learned to trust the process and bit by bit I am gaining the knowledge. For some people, like me, it takes a little longer to digest the information, but once I get it, I retain it.

CA: What are you enjoying most about the university?

Deborah: I’m actually enjoying the meals and a healthy lifestyle. I feel cleansed because I am eating healthy foods. I love the salad and even the dessert is healthy so I’m enjoying that as well. In our first STC course (Science and Technology of Consciousness), we learned how to have healthier habits like exercising, staying rested, eating healthily, and meditating regularly to stay clear and focused. I’ve been applying these lifestyle habits and it’s making a difference. I also love the block system.

CA: What do you love about the Block System?

Deborah: It’s wonderful. My sister is in pharmacy school,  and she is taking five course units at a time. In my program at MIU, I take one subject at a time and I can digest information much more quickly and easily because each subject builds on the last. I think every school should look into the block system.  It’s the best thing that could ever happen to any student because it makes learning so much easier.

CA: How are your professors?

Deborah: The professors are really good. I like how free they are with the students. You don’t feel limited any time you have to ask a question and they are very available for us as well. If you ask something they will get back to you almost immediately on Microsoft Teams and I really appreciate that.

CA: How’s your TM practice? Do you notice any benefits?

Deborah: I notice I’m much more organized. There’s a lot to remember with JavaScript, and with TM, my mind is organized so I can place everything where it needs to be. I don’t know how I could write 200 lines of code without that kind of clarity and orderliness in my thinking. For instance, if you open a tag and you forget to close it, this is not a good coding practice and it will be confusing. The code has to be in a particular position or scope in order to run perfectly. Without TM and a more focused mind, you are more likely to keep making errors. Also, I don’t feel as stressed as I would be without the daily meditation. Even though the program is a lot of work, for some reason I don’t feel stressed – and I think the reason is TM.

CA: You were saying that you joined a church in Fairfield and they made you feel welcome. How does your TM practice fit in with your religion?

Deborah: At the beginning, I was concerned and wondered if there might be a conflict, but our STC Professor, Dr. Wolfe said she likes to pray after her meditation. I find that TM is complimentary to someone’s religion. It quiets you and puts you in a place of solitude. After meditation is a beautiful time for me to pray because it feels like it’s just me and God.

CA: How’s dorm life?

Deborah: It’s great. My classmates live nearby and I love that there is a gym in the basement. I was worried about the cold in the winter and now I can get my exercise in my own building. It’s very convenient so I literally have no excuse. There are 2 treadmills, an elliptical machine, trampolines, a weight bench, and weights. I do my cardio on the treadmill or the trampoline and I also do weights. I like to exercise in the evening at 5:00 pm, right before dinner and homework.

Deborah and friends on campus

CA: How is the environment at MIU?

Deborah: I notice in Fairfield and at MIU, people are really warm. In a fast-paced city, you don’t get that. People don’t care. Here, it’s slower, which I like and it gives you a cushion, especially for people who are coming from a foreign country. I came to MIU from Virginia, and I’ve met people who are coming from Africa, and many other countries.  MIU is a good start for being in America. If you go straight to a big city from a foreign country, it could be a culture shock, but coming to MIU softens that.

CA: What inspires you about MIU and MSD?

Deborah: The combination of everything here at MIU – the block system, Transcendental Meditation, and the STC course where you learn daily habits and routines that work for you. You find out who you are, your body type according to Maharishi Ayur Veda, and learn exactly what foods and types of exercise, and daily routine you need to stay balanced. If someone goes by that, does their exercise, eats right, and gets good rest, the sky’s the limit. Obviously, there are nights when I stay up too late and I realize I didn’t accomplish anything after 10:00 pm, so I go to bed earlier the next night. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m definitely in a better place than I was when I arrived here.

CA: What would you say to other students applying to MSD? 

Deborah: It’s definitely a good program because it supports people who don’t have any background in computer science. I would tell them they definitely can do it because the professors understand where you are coming from, and they make it possible for you. The information is delivered in a way that you can understand the knowledge and the whole program and environment here is set up to help you succeed. As for me, I am optimistic at every stage of this journey that I can become one of the most successful female software developers.

 

Deborah is currently enrolled in the Masters of Software Development program and will begin applying for JavaScript web developer positions when her courses finish in August 2022. We wish her the best of luck and promise to keep you posted about her next adventure in the world of IT!

The Masters of Software Development is a 12-month Accelerated program or 18-month Standard Track training program for U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, to become software developers. Previous software development training or experience is not necessary to enroll in this program and any bachelor’s degree in any subject is eligible for admission. MSD is now accepting applications for August 2022. For more information call or text 800-563-9673.

*The MSD Accelerated Track is the 12-month program for students who are accepted into the Standard Track and also pass the JavaScript Coding Test.