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.
CA: 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.