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?
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?
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.
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.