MIU graduates a record 725 students, noted Cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum delivers commencement address

On Saturday afternoon, June 24, the Golden Dome filled with students and faculty wearing graduation robes and caps, plus family members and friends from around the country and elsewhere in the world, along with many connected by Zoom, to celebrate 725 graduating students — an all-time university record.

It was an international affair, with graduating students representing 64 countries.

Students’ countries were announced along with their names as they received their diplomas. The United States led the way with 273 graduates. Ethiopia had 116 graduates, South Africa 42, Vietnam 38, Mongolia 35, Nepal 31, Eritrea 31, Uganda 19, Egypt 14, and Rwanda 11. Graduates also came from Albania and Australia, Bangladesh and Brazil, Cambodia and Cameroon, Peru and Portugal, and many more.

Altogether, 113 students received bachelor’s degrees, 552 students received master’s degrees, and eight students received doctoral degrees, while 43 students at the Maharishi Invincibility Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, received MIU bachelor’s degrees in business and MBA degrees, and nine students in Ethiopia received MBA degrees.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum delivers commencement address

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, the noted cardiologist, author, and health educator, delivered the commencement address. She recounted the many times in her career that she had been told something is impossible, that there is “no such thing.” 

“Think about that for a moment,” she said. “When we hear such things, it’s easy to see them as a barrier. But what I learned is they can also be a beacon, a light in the distance, confirming you’re exactly where you need to be.” She continued: “And if you’re being propelled forward and hear those words, ‘There is no such thing,’ rest assured, you have chosen to create it from ‘no such thing’ into your most essential thing.” 

She called on graduating students to “simply recognize that — because of this education you’ve had here and who you have become because of it — the world is calling you to create that thing that will fulfill your purpose.” 

Dr. Steinbaum was presented with a Doctor of Science honoris causa degree by President John Hagelin, on behalf of the MIU Board of Trustees. ”In a world where individual and social health seems increasingly imperiled, you are a shining light,” the diploma text read. “You have played an outsized role in guiding the country back to balance and wholeness.”

Valedictorian and salutatorian addresses

“Today we are graduating with a lot more than a degree,” declared Valedictorian Shreya Sood, graduating summa cum laude with a BA in Sustainable Living. “We are graduating with liveliness, with bliss, empowered with tools to continue cultivating this bliss.” 

“Many of us chose MIU because the words Consciousness-Based education just made sense,” she continued. “It spoke to us on a profound level. . . . We knew we were seeking something different. We were seeking more than an education. We were seeking transformation. It sure has been.”

“Wherever our thoughts lead us,” she said, “whatever life has in store for us, let’s carry this light of consciousness we have lived in our hearts and let it guide us.”

“Keep your desire turning back within and be patient. Allow the fulfillment to come to you. Gently resist the temptation to chase your dreams into the world. Pursue them in your heart until they disappear into the self and leave them there. It may take a little self-discipline. Be simple, be kind, and stay rested. Attend to your own inner health and happiness. Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you. Allow your love to go to yourself as well as others. Do not strain after your needs of life. It is sufficient to be quietly alert and aware of them. In this way, life proceeds more naturally, effortlessly. Life is here to enjoy.”

Laura LaBoone, who graduated summa cum laude in Creative and Professional Writing, gave the Salutatorian address and presented the class gift.

“My fellow graduates,” she said, “as we celebrate our achievements today and embark on this next phase of our evolution, let us remember that true education goes far beyond the acquisition of facts and information; it is the awakening of our own creative intelligence, the realization of our interconnectedness with the world, and the cultivation of our own unique values and gifts — a lifelong journey that we are now well equipped for, thanks to the wisdom and tools offered to us by MIU.”

The gift from the class of 2023 is a $2000 contribution toward creating a new outdoor student space on campus, “where students can spend time, chat, laugh, meditate, and study together.”

Honorary doctorate to MIU alum Shizuo Suzuki

Also receiving an honorary degree was Shizuo Suzuki, who came to MIU from Japan in 1978, barely speaking English at first, and graduated in 1983, forty years ago. He completed the Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training course while still a student, and then, returning to Japan, became one of the most successful teachers in the country, eventually becoming the national leader of the TM organization in Japan. 

He has taught Transcendental Meditation to more than 2,000 people, including Prime Ministers and First Ladies, government ministers and members of parliament, a state governor, city mayors, and leading business executives. He has implemented TM Corporate Development Programs in more than forty companies, including Sony, Kyocera, and Sumitomo Heavy Industries, and has taught countless residential courses, seminars, and World Peace Assemblies, reaching thousands of people.  

Along the way, he wrote a best-selling book, Super Meditation: The Miracle of TM, sparking a TM boom in Japan, which sold 130,000 copies, inspiring more than 10,000 people to learn Transcendental Meditation. 

He helped organize for 4,000 Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Thailand to learn Transcendental Meditation. And in 2014 he and a colleague constructed a 9.9-megawatt solar plant with 39,600 solar panels in Kyoto, generating 1.6 billion yen ($13.3 million) over 20 years to support Maharishi Vedic Pandits in India. 

“When I speak to the leaders of the society in our country,” Dr. Suzuki said, “I proudly say I am a graduate of Maharishi International University. That’s what I’ve been doing in the past forty years. Now it’s your turn. And please make this world better and happier and healthier. And we, the graduates of MIU, we the graduates of Maharishi International University, are able to do that. We are able to do that. We have wonderful teachers. We have a wonderful school here. And you have that ability. You have that ability.”

The President’s charge

Delivering his charge to the graduating students at the end of the ceremony, President Hagelin encouraged students to “uphold yourself in your vitality, freshness, health.” “Nourish the root,” he said. “Maintain your connection to the field of true life, which is simply your consciousness. Consciousness is the source of the universe.”

“Stay on that path,” he said. “Take that time every day to expand the container of knowledge within, to draw upon the light of life itself. . . . Treasure it, protect it, and your achievements will be limitless, your happiness complete, your heart overflowing, your love unbounded. . . . Go forward, enjoy, achieve, grow to fulfillment, and you will really achieve the goal of life. And there’s no goal better than that.”

Appreciating the parents

In closing the ceremony, master of ceremonies and Dean of Faculty Vicki Alexander Herriott expressed appreciation to all the parents.

“Our students are people of great depth, character, the highest ideals,” she said. “Extraordinary people like this do not happen by accident. As they themselves will tell us, they owe a great deal to their parents — the people who birthed, raised, nurtured, guided, encouraged, supported, and above all, loved them. . . . We honor who you are. We honor what you have achieved in your children. . . . And please, wherever you are, accept our gratitude for raising these extraordinary human beings.”

Photographs by Ken West