School News

The Transcendental Meditation Advantage for Education

A Word With Our Graduates

One of the main reasons parents choose Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE) in Fairfield, Iowa, for their kids is because TM is part of the curriculum. Students find that TM provides an advantage in learning—because their minds are more settled and focused. In fact, so many students excel at Maharishi School that it’s sometimes hard to choose which students to honor for academic success at the end of the senior year.
At this year’s graduation, MSAE presented a new twist on an old tradition. Instead of selecting one Valedictorian and one Salutatorian, the School created a new Academic Excellence Award, granted to five seniors who maintained a perfect grade point average of 4.0 throughout four years of high school.
In addition, two graduates received the Pioneer Award, considered the highest distinction, granted to those who exhibit the qualities of balance, humility, kindness, inspiration, respect, responsibility, stability, and self-sufficiency.
Here the seven awardees speak about the School’s unique curriculum, including daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program, which helped them overcome teenage stress and become successful and happy students.

PIONEER AWARD WINNERS

JAYA MUEHLMAN

COLLEGE: University of Utah, Academic Scholarship
DOUBLE MAJOR: Ballet and Exercise Science
CAREER PLANS: Professional dancer and animal rights activist

My parents are Maharishi University of Management (MUM) graduates, and I was born and raised in Fairfield.
I am following my dream of attending one of the country’s top ballet programs, but the application process was overwhelming. After taking the SAT and ACT tests, knowing the results would dictate the next four years of my life and my entire future, I had to travel to each college I had applied to in order to audition. It was stressful. My Transcendental Meditation program was the reason I was able to get through the process. It helped me see the big picture and be organized to accomplish it all.
My classmates and teachers are wonderful. With my classmates, experiencing deep levels of consciousness in our daily meditations creates strong bonds, unlike with any other people I’ve met. I can’t remember one instance where any of us has gotten mad at each other. There have been times when someone was uncomfortable with something, so we brought it up, and it never turned into anything more than a conversation. Issues are resolved quickly here.
Since we have small classes, we develop strong relationships with our teachers. They are easy to go to if we need help and are like extended family—aunts and uncles.


BIMBA SHRESTHA

COLLEGE: University of North Carolina - Full Scholarship
MAJOR: Computer Science
CAREER PLANS: Help the visually impaired through computer technology

Originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, we moved to Fairfield when I was in 6th grade. I was a pretty shy guy, but over time I made good friends and got involved in speech contests, science fairs, sports, and Rotary Interact.

TM gives me a break! My days are so busy. I worked as a software developer in 10th and 11th grade and had to stop in the middle of 12th grade because it was too much work. Sometimes it’s overwhelming when I have to write five papers, go to work, prepare for the FIRST Robotics Competition, and compete in a basketball game. TM helps me forget about the pressure. After meditation, I’m more rested and clear. I remember why I’m doing all these things—because I like them.

In 10th grade I entered my first science fair and learned about competition. The next year I came up with a better project and won the State Championship. Since then, I’ve won many science awards, culminating with the Forward Thinker Award at the INTEL International Science Engineering Fair.

My favorite experience at Maharishi School has been sports, away games, sitting in the back of the bus talking to friends, and enjoying success in tennis, golf, basketball, and soccer. Last year our tennis team won the historic Triple Crown in Iowa, and this year we were State Runner-Up.


ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS

KADIE ROBERTS

COLLEGE: Sarah Lawrence College, New York
CAREER PLANS: Event Planner

Born and raised in Fairfield, I started Maharishi School in pre-school. I started my children’s meditation when I was four. I’ve been meditating 13 years, and I’m still surprised at how happy I feel afterwards. TM has given me a calm and stable base to act from, a steady force within me. It gives me comfort and confidence, and I know whatever happens, that self-sufficiency from within will be there. I don’t have to worry.

Senior year has been pretty crazy, really busy, and a roller coaster of emotions, feeling both excited and sad to leave MSAE. Putting everything out there to colleges and waiting for acceptance has been a little intimidating. TM definitely helped me through that intense but fun process.

I tell people I have the best friends in the whole world, and I totally mean it. Many of us grew up here, and we’ve been through everything together. I’m still amazed how supportive everyone is if there’s a challenge. New girls, who didn’t grow up here, easily integrate into the group.


JACQUELINE LEETE

COLLEGE: Wesleyan University, Connecticut - Scholarship
MAJOR: Behavioral Neuroscience
CAREER PLANS: Brain research

I was born on the MUM campus, and my parents work for the university. I’ve been going to MSAE since pre-school. I like the intimacy of the school and the community. I feel valued as an individual, not like a face in the crowd. Maharishi School is my family, so I’m a little sad about leaving, but also happy to explore new possibilities.
I really like my TM practice because it helps me in class and sports. To keep my focus and energy up, I always meditate before tennis matches. When we meditate before math class, my attention to detail is more accurate. TM will give me a competitive edge at college if I stay rested and meditate regularly.


LYDIA HUGGINS

COLLEGE: University of Cincinnati, Ohio
MAJOR: Industrial Design
CAREER PLANS: Design filtration systems for global water purification

My parents were MUM graduates and moved back to Fairfield so my three older brothers and I could attend MSAE. We all started in pre-school.

TM is one of the cornerstones of my education. It keeps me balanced, composed, and prepared for the day. Even if I’m overwhelmed at school, socially, or at home, TM is the one thing I come back to, which is myself. It gives me a platform to go out and be the best I can be.

My favorite part of MSAE has been the people I spend time with every day, from my teachers to my peers, and even the Lower School kids. We are a tight community. Classes are small, with 10 to 15 students, so bonds grow strong. We stay connected in and outside of school. Even people who don’t know each other well talk in the hallways and congratulate each other on accomplishments, like Speech, or Destination Imagination, or sports.

My older brothers told me, “You might not realize how special your connections are until you leave.” But I realize this now.

MSAE has prepared me for college, not just academically, but in terms of how to live my life—to not be overwhelmed and stay happy and healthy, which is as important as academics.

ALEX HOFFMAN

PLANS: Air Guard; then University of Iowa
MAJOR: Computer Science
CAREER PLANS: Cyber Security

My parents moved here from Seattle when I was three years old so my brother and I could go to MSAE.
TM helps me cope with sleepless nights, so I don’t become a zombie. Even if I don’t sleep well, the rest in meditation helps me stay alert during the day and not become irritable. I’ve experienced great clarity from meditating regularly. This clarity helped me decide what I want to do in life and to enjoy each day.

I’m postponing college for a year to attend the Air Guard basic training. They have a cool new cyber operations base in Des Moines. Learning cyber security will help me at the University of Iowa, when I study computer science.

I matured a lot here and became good friends with my teachers, who helped us develop critical thinking skills for greater academic comprehension. These important learning skills will help me in college and in life.


NATHANIEL ZHU

COLLEGE: Grinnell College, Iowa
MAJOR: Physics
CAREER PLANS: Research at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, in particle physics or astrophysics

I arrived at Maharishi School when I was three years old. My parents graduated from MUM and experienced Fairfield’s wonderful, safe, and protected community. They wanted that for my brother and me.

TM helped me mentally and physically to better tackle academics, and at Destination Imagination (DI), to think quickly at the Improvisation challenges, when everything was on the fly. I know TM will help me in college because it’s a built-in rest period, adding stability to a chaotic day.

My favorite experience was winning 5th place in the Senior Level Improvisation Challenge at the DI Global Competition. I still can’t believe it. The judges were impressed with our coherence on stage. After 13 years of meditating together and 7 years working together on various DI teams, we learned how to be there for each other. Teamwork was the essential ingredient to our success.

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