An Interview with Michael Fitzgerald, MSD Student
“The culture at MIU is truly an internationally-diverse one. We hear about the need for people to come together and experience other cultures to broaden their perspective, but at MIU, it’s automatically the reality. And it’s just so beautiful to see many different cultures overlapping and co-existing. Even students from countries with a conflict between them interact joyously and peacefully here. It’s incredible and very uplifting.”
Michael, how did you come to join the MSD program in 2019?
How did your Math background prepare you for software development?
Most anything computer science-related has its basis in math, and ultimately, math is an exercise in spatial and logical thinking. So, the two disciplines go hand in hand.
What are your career goals?
If I find the right position on the entry-level, I hope to build a solid career with room to grow. I see lots of potential roles in the software development arena, such as Product Management, DevOps, etc. I’d also like to explore staying in Fairfield, using the education I get from the program, and building a software development firm here.
The people here have qualities that you may not find in other places. The best way I can describe it is the ability to connect on deeper levels and a certain level of awareness that makes it a safe space to have a natural and effortless exchange of ideas. Maybe it’s due to going deeper inside during the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program and experiencing more inner happiness that makes people here so open and caring.
How has your TM program helped you during the course?
What suffers the most when you’re in school is having enough time in the day to fit everything in. I have to choose how many hours I can sleep, how long to study and when to study, and when to stay up late. I’d be worse off and further out of balance if I didn’t prioritize my meditation twice a day. If I only get 5 hours of sleep, I still make sure I fit my meditation in before the morning lectures so I feel rested and alert. It’s a technique for maintenance and I notice if I neglect that aspect.
The students on the MSD program represent 40 to 50 countries. What’s it like, being with so many international students?
It’s great. I’ve made lifelong friends from other countries and had unique and unforgettable experiences, like listening to a traditional Ethiopian singer while working on projects with Ethiopian students. We may be from many different countries, but we’re all on the same trajectory, taking our classes together, so there’s a cool group feeling that we’re in this together. The whole program and curriculum are laid out, so it’s like riding a train, and there’s this sense that the train will take you to totally new heights.
What do you think of the Faculty?
I’ve enjoyed connecting with the faculty; they are compassionate, helpful, and smart. We’ve come a long way when you consider it was the first year of this program and it doesn’t require previous coding experience. We had to trust that the faculty had done the best job of planning and organizing the course and we would be successful. Now that the 12 months are coming to an end, I realize how much I’ve learned.
How is MIU different from other universities?
MIU is the only university I know of that encourages its students to stay rested and have a healthy lifestyle. For me, that’s as important as knowledge. Many of my classmates noticed they didn’t have as much stress and had greater clarity and focus in school, and it came as a surprise to them. They didn’t think much of the meditation before coming here but they were impressed with the results.
Would you recommend this program and why?
The tech world has many different streams and careers which this program prepares us for, so even if someone has no experience in computer science but wants to learn software development, this is the best road to take. And if the idea of self-development appeals to someone, they will gain so much more than they ever expected from this program.