How Rajeev’s Search for Bigger Purpose in Life Led Him to MSD

Meet Rajeev Thapa, who was born in Pokhara, Nepal, and moved to the US at the age of 17 to pursue an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Technology. Rajeev has come a long way since the age of 17 and has learned a lot about how he wants to live his life. Learn more about his journey to find himself, how it led him to MIU’s Master’s in Software Development (MSD), and why he felt MSD was a better choice than boot camps or an entry-level job.

“I realized that life has a bigger purpose, bigger than just sleeping, eating, and going to work… I looked at the MSD website and the block system with one course at a time, and the meditation approach that helps us with our studies, and it resonated with me. In my life, it is important to grow as a human being in addition to being successful as a husband, father, and provider. I want to make a significant and positive difference in the world. I was inspired because MIU provides the knowledge and skills for a great career but also addresses inner growth.”

 ~ Rajeev Thapa

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: What do you consider your greatest achievement since arriving in America at such a young age?

Rajeev: My greatest achievement so far has been earning my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho, despite many challenges along the way. When I came to the US, I had no friends here. I did not know anyone. I had just enough money for one semester of tuition and had to work full-time while attending college. It wasn’t easy, but I am very proud of what I accomplished. Another achievement was working on multiple IT projects for 12 years and adding tremendous value to the company where I was employed.

CA: Tell us about your experience after graduating from Brigham Young.

Rajeev: After graduation, I worked as a Software Test Engineer at a small company in Minneapolis for 12 years. During this time, I worked on many different IT projects and had the opportunity to travel to many countries around the world.

I moved to Alabama in 2017 because I liked the warmer climate and my sister and brother-in-law live there. I continued working for the same company remotely. That’s where I met my wife.  We married in 2017 and our son was born in 2021.

CA: Were you happy with your job?

Rajeev: At first, I was happy, but after 12 years of working for the same company, I quit because I hadn’t learned any new skills and wasn’t advancing professionally.

CA: It was brave to quit a job that you felt was going nowhere. What did you do next?

Rajeev: I spent very little time in Nepal since I moved to the United States when I was 17, and I wanted to reconnect with my roots, my culture, and my parents, so I took my family, and we spent seven months in Nepal. My wife had just given birth to our son and wanted good self-care, which was easier to receive while staying with her parents in Nepal. Because I didn’t have the pressure of a job, I could spend quality time with my family and both of our parents.

Also, while we were in Nepal, I fulfilled my desire to take a long trek to the Himalayas. My wife and son stayed with her parents, which gave me the freedom to travel solo up to Mount Everest and the Annapurna range, for 2 to 3 months.  My wife was supportive because she knew I needed time to reflect on my life and figure out what direction I should take. She understood that I needed clarity, and it was a perfect opportunity to take time to be on my own and know myself more deeply.

CA: What did you learn from your trek in the mountains?

Rajeev: I saw the beauty of Nepal, with its diverse landscape, culture, and people. To be surrounded by some of the highest and most majestic mountains in the world and experience how tiny I was compared to those giants was a humbling experience. To see porters carrying 100-200 pounds of weight on their backs while climbing 20,000 feet up the mountains made me reflect on how easy my life is compared to others.

I realized life is full of adventure, and sometimes I need to go outside of my comfort zone to discover new possibilities and opportunities. Life can also be full of hardships, and I was reminded to be grateful and kind.

Rajeev Himalaya Trek

CA: What happened after your trip to Nepal? Did you look for a new job?

Rajeev: We stayed in Nepal for 7 months and returned to the USA in October 2022. I had a kid and a mortgage to pay, and we were living off our savings, so I had to find a job, but I didn’t want to work in software testing anymore. I wanted to get into software development but didn’t have the skills. Even though I studied IT at Brigham Young, it had been 12 years since I did any software development work. My options were to do a boot camp or get an entry-level job with some company, and if I was lucky, they would train me in software development.

I researched boot camps and saw how they throw everything at you in 3 to 6 months and I didn’t think I could retain that much information in such a short amount of time. Plus, I heard about some people’s experience in boot camps, and it wasn’t inspiring. Starting from scratch with an entry-level position would take much longer to find a good job and I would have to put time into studying after work, which was challenging since I have a family and newborn son.

CA: It sounds like you were in a quandary. What happened next?

Rajeev: I heard about (MSD)  through a friend who graduated from ComPro (MIU’s MS in Computer Science program).  One of my main reasons for choosing MSD was the opportunity to develop new skills and grow professionally. I have always been passionate about developing software applications, and I was looking for a program that would take my career to the next level.

My wife knew how badly I wanted to grow in my profession and as a person, and supported me to apply for this program. I knew there was no time to wait for some perfect opportunity. I had to act right away.

CA: What inspired you to move quickly to join MSD?

Rajeev: I looked at the MSD website and the block system with one course at a time, and the meditation approach that helps us with our studies, and it resonated with me. In my life, it is important to grow as a human being in addition to being successful as a husband, father, and provider. I want to make a significant and positive difference in the world. I was inspired because MIU provides the knowledge and skills for a great career but also addresses inner growth.

I saw the video of the founder of MIU, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where he mentioned that we are always pursuing external knowledge but never looking inside. Every other school system is about filling the mind with information. Focusing on outer knowledge is necessary, but we need to expand the inner container in order to gain outer knowledge. The more you expand your mind, the more you can take in, and as you grow, you can give more to your family and society, and that’s a formula for happiness.

This approach to education will help me develop as a joyful, peaceful, resilient person and have a great career, all at the same time.

CA: How does becoming a software developer fulfill your desire to make positive changes in the world?

Rajeev: Positive change would come by working with a company that values using technology for the enhancement of human potential. This may mean facilitating encrypted communication or using technology to make someone’s job easier or improving lives by making technology available for people from all walks of life. As developers, we dictate how the technology operates and it should be used for the right purpose.

My ability to make a difference in the world will come from developing my own level of perception and consciousness. I need to make sure I am working from a place of clarity, joy, and compassion. As Gandhi taught, you have to be the change you want to see in the world. That requires working on myself every day to align with my inner values, such as kindness, humility, and gratitude; and working on my mind, body, and spirit through meditation, yoga, reading, exercise, and surrounding myself with incredible people. As my mind becomes clearer and more expansive my work as a software developer will be more successful.  By recognizing that everything is connected and that I am part of everything, my actions, and goals are naturally for the greatest good.

MSD Student Rajeev-and familyCA: Do you have any advice for students considering joining MSD?

Rajeev: I would tell them, if you join MSD, you need to be motivated and willing to adapt.  The pace is fast, and you must keep up, so stay focused. If you have any problems, reach out to the professor right away. You made the choice, and once you are here, don’t look back. It’s a calm, peaceful place to study and focus, away from the hustle and bustle. For me, the best part is learning to invest time in myself as well as my studies and that is what I will take from here. That’s what makes this university unique. They teach us how to have a healthy lifestyle to become successful. Take advantage of the daily TM, get regular exercise and plenty of rest, and it will help you succeed in this program and ultimately perform your best in your new career.



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: 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.

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 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: 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.

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.

Gemechu and MSD classmates

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.

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: 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: 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. 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: 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: 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: 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.

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.


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

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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.




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.




A Message of Peace from MSD Student Chadia Kayitesi

Chadia Kayitesi grew up in Rwanda and her beautiful message to students and people of all cultures and religions is forgiveness, letting go, and finding your deep happiness inside.

This comes from a woman who was only a 1 ½-year-old child in Rwanda at the time of the Genocide against the Tutsis in 1994. “Now the war is over and we are one people,” she says. Chadia’s goal is to find her own inner happiness and create a great life for herself, by following her dream to become a software developer on the Masters of Software Development program.  It was a joy to interview this courageous and positive young woman.


Interview by Christine Albers

CA: I understand you were just a baby when the Genocide against Tutsis in 1994, occurred. How did the war affect you and the lives of the people of Rwanda?

Chadia: I was only 1 ½ years old and separated from my mother and my father during that time, so I am lucky I was so young that I don’t remember anything about the war. After my parents passed away, I was fortunate to be raised by my aunt and uncle who became like second parents to me and guided me in my education and career.

Our new President Paul Kagame has done everything to help our people come together. His message is that what happened is in the past and we must forgive the people who did it. It was a bad influence from the previous President who created the hatred during that time but they paid for what they did. Forgiveness is the only way we can live in this world, President Kagame says,  otherwise, we will keep killing each other. Now our country is peaceful, green, and clean, all due to President Kagame.

CA: That is such a beautiful message from President Kagame. What led you to come to the USA?

Chadia: It’s a long story, starting with my uncle, who was the Director of Information Technology at the University of Rwanda. He told me about technology and how it is changing the world. It was so compelling to learn how technology is growing every day. He told me I could become a programmer or network administrator with a simple click. Since that day I decided to be a tech girl and took computer science courses in secondary school (high school).

In Rwanda, if you get high marks in secondary school, they will send you to a public university, and give you scholarships, so I went to IPRC the Integrated Pro-technical Regional Center-South for  Information and Communication Technology (ICT), where I received my advanced diploma. After that, I went to the University of Tourism, Technology, and Business Studies (UTB) and got my Bachelor’s degree in Business Information Technology.

Then, in 2020 I won the lottery and got a Green Card to come to the USA.

CA: What was your plan when you arrived in the USA?

Chadia: My plan was to find a job in my field of computer science and start making money to help my family back home, but I learned that our degrees from Rwanda don’t have much credibility in the U.S. I was desperate and went for a factory job. Then my cousin told me that if I continued in the factory I would be living day to day, and would never accomplish my dreams.

My cousin said, “You can’t think everything is going to just come to you. If you want a good job, you have to go back to school. If you don’t go to school, you’ll only get a basic job in a warehouse, and your life will only be about working, eating, and sleeping. If you want to be someone or do something worthwhile, you need to go back to school.” Every day he reminded me about education, and said, “Whatever you do, please go to school. I don’t care where you go, keep in your mind you have to go to school. You have to think about what you want to study. You can be whatever you want to be.”

CA: You had such good fortune in receiving guidance from your relatives. How did you learn about MIU?

Chadia:  I followed my cousin’s advice and started researching where I could learn software development. I also discovered some friends living in the US who came from my high school in Rwanda. One friend told me about MIU and said, “You have to go there. Back home, they give us a lot of education but when you get out in the world it’s not like you have any particular skill.” My friend said that US companies look for specific skills and told me about the MSD program at MIU where we could become proficient software developers in 12 to 18 months.  He said that a year and a half of study is nothing, and after that, I would be set because I would have all the skills needed to find a great job.

MSD-student Chadia on winter breakCA: How did you feel about learning TM at MIU?

Chadia: My friend told me that they teach TM at MIU. I didn’t know anything about meditation or TM,  but he told me to go to the MSD website and learn about it.  I met other people who graduated from MIU and they told me about the computer science and software development programs and how TM helped them during their education at MIU.  They said it helped them find happiness, reduce stress and focus on programming. From my side, I did my own research on MIU and liked what I saw, and here I am.

CA: I love that the computer science graduates spoke so highly about their TM practice. How did TM help you?

Chadia: To be honest, I wasn’t meditating regularly when I first learned TM at MIU. I was in my head. I had a lot of stuff to deal with and couldn’t focus, so the first MSD course wasn’t easy for me and I didn’t do very well. When I started the second course, I knew I better try to change, so I decided to try meditation and see if it would help. I started doing TM every day and as a result, my grades were much better than before.

CA: That’s wonderful! Did you notice any benefits in your personal life?

Chadia: Yes! TM helped me become a happier, more peaceful person. It was amazing. My mind became more clear, more orderly. After finishing my classes each day, I have so much information in my head, and I have to figure out what I know and what I don’t know so I can approach my studies efficiently. After meditation, I know what to focus on so I don’t waste time. Everything is much clearer after I meditate. I wish the people in my country could learn this technique.

CA: Do you know if TM is taught in Rwanda?

Chadia: I was happy to learn that TM is taught in Rwanda. Everyone who went through the Genocide against Tutsis in 1994 has so much deep pain and trauma but TM can help them let go and forgive, by finding their own deeper happiness inside. I hope that many people in my country and throughout the world can learn the TM technique and find inner peace.

CA: What are your plans for the future?

Chadia: I want a good career and a meaningful life.  MSD is giving me the opportunity to start a career as a software engineer and be a problem solver or innovator, which has always been my dream. There’s nothing more satisfying than working on a problem that’s been around for a while and knowing that I can solve that problem. At MIU I am learning how to work with my consciousness, so if I’m working on something and can’t find a solution, I take a break and listen to music or I’ll meditate and the solution comes to me.

As a Software developer, I hope to provide solutions for user problems. I will likely be working on the occasional quick fix as well as more complex strategic solutions. Problem-solving skills are required to be a Software Developer and a good programmer needs to put her/his self in the users’ shoes in order to provide a solution. I am ready to lift any company to another level and make the users’ work easier, and MSD will help me achieve this goal.

CA: What would you say to someone who wants to apply for the MSD program?

Chadia: I would tell interested students not to hesitate about applying for the MSD program. It’s an opportunity to learn a lot and create a better life with a great career. You might not have heard about TM before, but it will help you with your studies. Also, the way the program is organized with the block system makes it easier to learn and remember what you studied in your courses.  It’s a healthy environment, and the people at MIU are friendly. You won’t feel like a stranger. You will feel like you are coming to your family. All you have to do is take advantage of everything MIU has to offer and focus on your studies and you will succeed.


Chadia 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!




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!

Top MSD Graduate Jeremy Chronister Creates a New Life for Himself and His Family

“The Master’s in Software Development (MSD) is set up to help you succeed. You can come here knowing that the faculty will do all they can to help, and then, with the team projects, your classmates work with you and everyone helps each other. It’s a great environment, very supportive, and set up for learning and moving forward.  It’s an investment year of your life, but in the end, it will be worth it.” ~ Jeremy Chronister

By Christine Albers

It takes a lot of courage and determination to pack up yourself, your wife, 3 young children, 30 beehives, and a kayak, and move from Tennessee to Iowa to pursue a new career. But Jeremy Chronister did it – and he’s glad he did. After working in the paper industry as an engineer for 19 years Jeremy knew it was time for a change. “Paper mills are an old school industry,” he explains. He was in the fine papers industry, which includes printer paper, magazines, etc. and much of it was declining. He had enjoyed creating some computer programs at the job and wanted to gain more expertise in computer technology. But where to go? Most computer science Master’s programs require a BA in computer science and Jeremy’s degree was in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maine. Then he found the Master’s in Software Development program at MIU.

CA: How did you become interested in computer science?

Jeremy: I learned early in my career that life is a lot easier if you can automate things.  I wanted to get into computer programming, but it’s hard to get over that hump of not having a strong computer science background. I taught myself some visual basic and JavaScript but needed training in modern frameworks.

CA: How did you hear about MIU?

Jeremy: I learned about MIU through my mother-in-law who lives in Fairfield, Iowa. She told me there was a new Master’s in Software Development (MSD) which didn’t require any experience or background in computer science. We weren’t sure how it was going to go, because in 2019 it was only in its first year, so we waited and watched the first class and it turned out great. All the graduates got good jobs so I felt encouraged to apply. The MSD program covers all the in-demand technologies and offers a well-rounded education which was a heads up for me.

CA: Was MSD everything you hoped for?

Jeremy: I learned a lot and I liked the block schedule where you work on one subject at a time and everything builds from the class before it. We used what we just learned in our next class and I liked that we didn’t have to keep switching up subjects like at other colleges.

CA: Was it challenging?

Jeremy: It was challenging but my classmates were great and we all helped each other when we ran into problems. Plus, our professors were very helpful and willing to assist whenever we needed it.

CA: How was the international culture?

Jeremy: Catching the accents of everyone was difficult at first but I finally got there. Ironically, I was told I have an accent which I couldn’t believe! Once you get the rhythm, the other languages are easier to understand, especially since many of the international students had been in the USA for a few years.

I really liked meeting people from so many countries, such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Pakistan, Nepal, and China. They were polite and fun to work with. We were all in the same boat, trying to improve our lives no matter where we came from. It was a good opportunity and it expanded my understanding of the world to see that the news doesn’t show you everything. They are all people like me.

MSD friends with Jeremy at graduation

CA: How are the faculty?

Jeremy: They are excellent,  always helpful, and trying to assist and challenge us. They got us started on an idea for a project and encouraged us to learn the details and implement it on our own. We learned how to read the API documentation which we will need in the future when we are constantly learning new technologies. It will be important to be self-sufficient and work out problems independently in the working environment.

CA: Now that you have finished MSD, how do you feel about programming?

Jeremy: I really enjoy programming because you can make it into an art. You can create code that moves smoothly or roughly; it’s up to the programmer to make it easy for everyone to understand what you are doing and minimize any redundance.

CA: How did you like working on a team?

Jeremy: If you have a good team, it goes pretty smoothly. As long as the code works and passes the tests there is a lot of room to play,  so each person can do their part, with their own style.  Everyone writes slightly differently, but we keep to the standards and then put it all together to make one full application. It’s great to see it all work in the end.

CA: Do you feel ready for a job as a JavaScript web developer?

Jeremy: I feel comfortable with everything we covered in the curriculum and our professors always gave us the latest popular framework.  Although each company might use different standards, once we learn one framework, we can quickly learn others because they are usually similar ideologies.

CA: What qualities are needed to succeed as a JavaScript programmer?

Jeremy: A good programmer needs to be detail-oriented and also a little creative, able to spin ideas in a different way. If they learn one skill, they should be able to spin it and apply it to something else. I do not think everyone can be a programmer, because everyone is given different gifts and talents. The ability to write programs requires being able to break a problem down into logical steps which will be combined to accomplish your goal.

CA: How did you do all this with a family?

Jeremy: My family was very supportive. We have 3 girls, ages 5, 7, 9, and my wife home schools them. They always made sure I went to school and gave me time to do my TM and study at night. My wife wanted me to do this because of the opportunity to get a good job in the end. They helped me stay rested during the year and I was in bed every night by 10:00 pm, which helped me be alert during classes in the day.

CA: How do you feel about your TM practice? Did it help you in school?

Jeremy: I learned TM when I arrived at MIU and it was questionable at first, but I was willing to try it because of all the  good research on the benefits.

For me, the effects were more subtle. It helped my mind settle down so I had more clarity. I think it helped me learn more and absorb the material because I could focus better without all the racing thoughts.

CA: Will you continue your TM now that you have graduated?

Jeremy:  I plan to continue meditating. I’ve kept it up since graduating and hope to stay in the routine of doing it each day when I get a new job.

CA: How’s the job search going?

Jeremy: I took a few weeks off after my courses ended to spend time with my family, so I’m just getting into the job search process. I’m hoping to get a job where I can see the whole flow, from the back end to the front end, to the distribution of information, to the Cloud. I like seeing how all the pieces work together. In the MSD program, we learned in a development setting, but code production is fundamentally different. With development, you are only testing code, but in production, you might get a million requests so you have to scale things out so you can handle all the incoming requests. We learned how to set that up in our Cloud Computing classes.

CA: What are you looking for in a job?

Jeremy: I would like a remote job. I am location-specific with my hobbies because I’m into whitewater kayaking and the best spots are away from big cities where the tech jobs are. My family and I hope to go back to the tri-state area of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, where we are from, and where there’s a lot of white-water kayaking.

CA: What would you say to students who are applying for MSD?

Jeremy: MSD is set up to help you succeed. You can come here knowing that the faculty will do all they can to help, and then, with the team projects, your classmates work with you and everyone helps each other. It’s a great environment, very supportive, and set up for learning and moving forward.  It’s an investment year of your life, but in the end, it will be worth it.


Congratulations to Jeremy, who completed his courses and graduated from the Masters of Software Development program in August 2021. He started his new career as a JavaScript web developer at Capital Technology Group in Maryland on November 1, 2021. We wish him the best of luck on his next adventure in the world of IT!





Why Sirak’s Friends are Joining the Master’s in Software Development

Sirak HeadshotSirak Tekle came to America from the country of Eritrea in 2015, with a background in electrical engineering. He learned about the Master’s in Software Development (MSD) program from a friend who graduated from the Computer Professionals (ComPro) program in 2016. Let’s see how Sirak is doing as an MSD student, why he tells his friends to come to MIU instead of going to boot camps – and five of his friends are joining the program!

By Christine Albers

CA: How do your parents feel about you joining the MSD program?

Sirak: They are happy and proud of me for coming here for this education. They think it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

CA: When did you come to the US?

Sirak: I landed in San Jose, California in 2015. It was a bit of a culture shock because it’s so diverse and very different from Eritrea. But now I feel like this country is my home. I was employed by Dish Network, Uber, and AT&T as a technician in San Jose before coming to Iowa.

CA: How did you hear about MIU?

Sirak: My friend Henok, who graduated from the Computer Science (ComPro) program, bugged me for 3 years to take this program. I couldn’t join ComPro because I didn’t have a computer background, but he told me I could take the MSD program without any software development experience. He said, “This Master’s in Software Development is the best deal for people who have a background like us.” It took me three years to decide to come to MIU and when I came, I found it was exactly like he said.

CA: What did Henok love best about MIU?

Sirak:  Henok loved the environment, that it was not a big city, but a quiet town, which is the best environment for students. It’s not a big party school, it’s literally a perfect environment. He also told me that Transcendental Meditation (TM) helped him make good progress in his studies.

Sirak with Friends Graduation Party

CA: Do you agree with Henok?

Sirak: Yes!  I love the campus and the whole Fairfield area. If I find a remote job I’d love to continue to live here.  Fairfield is more like my country, so I feel like I’m back home right now. You don’t have the traffic, it’s not crowded. The city is perfect and amazing, and so quiet. I live downtown next to Jefferson County Courthouse and I particularly like Sundays because they are so quiet.

CA: What do you like best about MIU and the MSD program?

Sirak: I like TM, and the environment, and the curriculum. We study one topic at a time and focus entirely on software development, not bothering to study unnecessary things.  We are learning the skills specific to our career, so by the time we finish the program, we have everything we need to find a job. All we need is a Master’s degree and we can get a job right away.

CA: What benefits do you notice from your TM practice?

Sirak: TM helps me a lot, especially in the morning. It makes my mind more powerful and triggers my energy. I see a lot of differences. I used to get bored easily and after an hour I wanted a break, but once I do my meditation in the morning, I can study for a long time, four or five or even six hours at a time.

CA: Did you consider going to a boot camp?

Sirak: I wouldn’t recommend boot camps. It’s better to come here and join the extended track (18 months). People might save some money at boot camps, but it’s not about the money. It’s about your long-term goals. Students don’t learn enough at the boot camps because it’s impossible to learn that fast. If they know nothing, to begin with, they won’t gain a deep core understanding of the programming language, as we do here at MIU. Here they teach us to think like an engineer, to solve problems on our own, and to understand the core of the study. You cannot become a competent programmer by going to a boot camp.

CA: Do you enjoy software development?

Sirak: When I came here, we were learning new frameworks and new technologies from the top of the market. That’s the best thing about MSD. They only teach you the most up-to-date knowledge and frameworks.

CA: How do you like JavaScript?

Sirak: I love JavaScript. It’s not complicated.  It’s straightforward and grows more popular all the time.  If you go to Google ratings for programming languages it’s at the top rank of any programming language

CA: If someone asked you about the program what would you tell them?

Sirak: I used to think that all schools are the same, but this school not only helps you change your career, it’s also life-changing, and TM is a big part of that. Now I regret that I waited three years. I don’t want my friends and all the people I know to miss this opportunity. I recommended this to five of my friends who are joining next semester and I want to keep convincing my friends to come to MIU and join this program. It will help them get a great career and change their lives for the better.

Sirak completed his courses and graduated from the Masters of Software Development program in August 2021. He is ready to begin a new career as a JavaScript web developer. We wish him the best of luck on his next adventure in the world of IT!




Jyoti’s Transcontinental Journey to Find MIU’s Master’s in Software Development


By Christine Albers

Jyoti Raj Khatri comes from the eastern part of Nepal, and over the last ten years, he lived in Nepal, China, California, and now Fairfield, Iowa.  In this interview, we learn about his transcontinental journey that led to finding the Master’s in Software Development program, where he is gaining the knowledge to start a new career as a JavaScript web developer, and the industry in which he hopes to apply his expertise.


CA: You’ve lived in many different places, Jyoti. What and where did you study before you came to the Master’s in Software Development?

Jyoti:  I gained my Bachelor’s Degree in Science, with General Microbiology as my major, in Nepal. Then, with a government scholarship, I studied in China and received my Master’s in Social Medicine and Health Management. The university was in the southern part of China, Changsha City in Hunan province


CA: Did you need to be fluent in Mandarin in order to study in China? How was that for you?

Jyoti: During my first year of college, I had to learn Mandarin Chinese, and after one year of studying Mandarin, I was able to start my major. It’s very difficult to learn the Chinese language but all of our classes were part Chinese and part English, so I had to learn it. English was easier because we studied in English when I was growing up in Nepal.

Jyoti’s family at Dashain festival in Nepal

CA: Congratulations on mastering Mandarin! What was it like when you landed in the United States?

Jyoti: I arrived in Sacramento, California in August 2019. It was a great starting place for me as I have 3 sisters in Sacramento. I lived with my elder sister who is a nurse, another sister works at Wal-Mart and the other works in a nursing home.  We all lived close to each other and often gathered to celebrate our Nepali festivals, like Dashain and Tihar, which are the two biggest festivals in Nepal. Dashain is related to receiving blessings from our elders. Tihar is related to the festival of lights and also about brothers and sisters wishing each other prosperity. We also celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving.


CA: What kind of work were you looking for when you arrived in the US?

Jyoti: I was looking for a job in the health management sector, but I found that I needed a US degree.  I worked at a grocery store owned by my brother-in-law while I searched for a US university that offered a Master’s degree in the health field, but then I learned about MIU.


CA: How did you hear about MIU? And why did you decide on software development?

Jyoti:  My friends suggested getting into IT as it’s booming in the U.S. and my cousin told me about the Computer Professionals Master’s program (ComPro) at MIU. He graduated from ComPro in 2015 and has a good job, working and living in Texas. I didn’t have any background in computer science, so I couldn’t apply for ComPro, but when I heard about the Master’s in Software Development (MSD) program, which doesn’t require any background in computer science, I felt that was the best program for me.


CA: Why did you think software development was a good fit for you? How will you use it in the future?

Jyoti: I was already interested in the IT field when I was in China, but my subject wasn’t IT at the time. When I came to the U.S. I was glad to find a program that offered software development training.  Maybe in the future I can learn other languages, but I found that I love JavaScript Full Stack and it’s a good way to start my career. Because I have a background in public health management, maybe I can work in hospitals, in the medical system, with big data. That’s where I’ll look for jobs first.


CA: Is your Transcendental Meditation practice helping with your studies?

Jyoti: TM helps me stay calm and peaceful. I feel silence inside, so I’m not troubling myself because I have to work hard. Normally in college, we are always worried about what will happen if we don’t do well in our courses and if we won’t get results, and worrying just gets in the way. TM keeps me calm and efficient, and focused on my studies, without the stress.

“TM helps me stay calm and peaceful. I feel silence inside, so I’m not troubling myself because I have to work hard. TM keeps me calm and efficient, and focused on my studies, without the stress.”


CA: Will it be easy to continue your TM practice when you start your new career?

Jyoti: Yes, because it’s easy, and you can do it anytime, anywhere. You can relax and don’t need anything special. Just take the 20 minutes.


CA: How are the MSD faculty?

Jyoti: I respect the faculty because we are students who started the program without knowing anything about IT, and they have to make us knowledgeable. We are starting from nothing and working hard, but there are challenges because we are so new to everything. The professors have to catch up with us and we have to catch up with them. The faculty have to understand us before they can teach us. They have to work harder than us, and we appreciate all that they are doing.


CA: What do you like best about MIU’s system of education?

Jyoti: Here at MIU we start with the basics, and with the block system we learn a whole subject in one month. That helps very much because when you focus on one subject at a time, you grasp that knowledge and it helps you with the next course.  It’s a great way to help you learn.


CA: What would you tell a friend if they wanted to apply for the MSD program?

Jyoti: I would tell them, you have to work hard, it doesn’t depend on the university, it depends on you. If you don’t focus and do your homework properly it will be hard. But if you do a good job during this time, then this is a platform for you to have a good future, and this whole life is yours.



Jyoti is currently a full-time student in the Master’s of Software Development program and will graduate in August 2021. We wish him all success in finding a great job as a software developer in his field of health management.