MIU graduates a record 853 students, noted heart surgeon Dr. Hassan Tetteh gives commencement address

MIU’s iconic Golden Dome brimmed with caps, gowns, applause, and cheers on the sunny Saturday afternoon of June 23 as the university celebrated the graduation of 853 students, an all-time record.

This number eclipsed the 732 students who graduated in 2023.

Noted heart surgeon and best-selling author Dr. Hassan Tetteh delivered the commencement address. “You all have been given the great gift of a Consciousness-Based education and so much more,” he told the graduating students. “Indeed, much is expected of you. You are all expected to exceed expectations.”

Of the total number of graduates, 102 students received bachelor’s degrees, 639 received master’s degrees, and eight received doctoral degrees, while 507 students completed their degrees on campus and 239 did so online. Another 94 students graduated with MIU degrees from MIU’s sister institution Maharishi Invincibility Institute in South Africa.

International graduating class

Graduating students represented 66 countries — fully one third of all the countries in the world had students graduating from MIU.

The United States led the pack with 275 graduates. Ethiopia had 122 graduates, South Africa 99, Nepal 75, Mongolia 27, Eritrea 25, Jordan 17, Bangladesh 16, Uganda 15, Egypt 14, Vietnam 14, Morocco 13, and Pakistan 11. Cheers erupted from each national contingent in the audience as these numbers were presented.

And this year, MIU had graduates from six new countries: Angola, Barbados, Cape Verde, Kosovo, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Family affairs

The brother-and-sister team of Joylyn Ruth-Tobio Stover and Peter Stewart Tobio Stover received Doctorates of Education in Transformational Leadership and Coaching, their spouses and parents joining them in the Golden Dome. This graduation marked the first time that MIU awarded Doctor of Education (EdD) degrees, the outcome of its partnership with Wright Graduate University.

Brother-and-sister duo Bennet and Malena Strauch, from Germany, received bachelor’s degrees, Bennet in mathematics, Malena in art, with both minoring in the Enlightened Leadership program. Malena was the valedictorian and Bennet the outstanding student in mathematics. Their parents, who traveled from Germany to be present, received Enlightened Parents Awards at the Student Awards Ceremony the previous night.

Also graduating together was a  husband-and-wife couple from Mongolia, Sukh Erdene Erdenebileg and Todgerel Baalaikhuu, both receiving master’s degrees in computer science.

In other family affairs, the 2024 salutatorian, Jennifer Neuger, is the mother of 2022 salutatorian Katherine Eid-Wild.

And David Orme-Johnson, who graduated with a BA in art, is grandson of founding MIU faculty member Dr. David Orme-Johnson, one of the world’s pioneering and preeminent meditation researchers. During his long tenure with MIU, Dr. Orme-Johnson chaired the psychology department and directed the PhD program in psychology. With more than a hundred published studies already, he is continuing his research on the Transcendental Meditation technique. Dr. Orme-Johnson was present in the audience along with his wife, founding MIU faculty member Dr. Rhoda Orme-Johnson.

This graduating class also showed that age is no barrier to higher education, at either end of the scale.

At age 18 — when many young people are graduating from high school and perhaps thinking about college — Sabrina Cooklin graduated with an MIU bachelor’s of Applied Arts and Sciences, which she took online. And three people in their mid-70s received degrees: Ralph Hearn (73) with a master’s in physics, Svetlana Murokh (74) with a bachelor’s in AyurVeda Wellness and Integrative Health, and Kristen Payne (75) with an MS in Aromatherapy and Ayurveda.

Exceeding expectations – Dr. Tetteh’s commencement address

Dr. Tetteh opened his address by quoting the Biblical verse Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Dr. Hassan Tetteh delivered the commencement address.

“Your presence here today, under this magnificent Golden Dome, suggests that all of you have received much in life, including the opportunity and the gift to reflect and to meditate,” Dr. Tetteh said.

“Get ready to repay,” he continued. “There is great opportunity for all of us in the community of meditators to make a difference, affect change, and exceed expectations. This is especially true in the arenas of scholarship, leadership, and service.”

Dr. Tetteh recounted his life experiences, including 25 years as a surgeon in the Navy, including deploying to Afghanistan and caring for wounded Marines in a tent.

“Meditation saved my life,” he said. “When I returned from my deployment in Afghanistan, after taking care of blown-up Marines in a tent, I was in a dark place.”

“TM was the beginning of a whole new life,” he said. “TM has helped me grow, increase my creativity, be a better father, be a better husband, be a better physician, be a better surgeon, and it gave me peace.”

“You all have been given the great gift of a Consciousness-Based education and so much more. Indeed, much is expected of you. You are all expected to exceed expectations. So, as I close, you might say, ‘Well, how do I exceed expectations?’ I’ll give you three steps.

“Number one, you will exceed expectations when you dedicate your life to answering life’s most urgent question. . . . What is that question? The question is, what are you doing for others?”

“Number two,” he said, “you will exceed expectations when you expect to have challenges and view them all as opportunities, and understand that that which does not kill you makes you stronger.”

“And number three, you will exceed expectations when you are all grateful to the people who helped you along the way.”

As he closed his address, the audience rose for an extended standing ovation.

For the full text of Dr. Tetteh’s address, click here.

Dr. Tetteh with his Doctor of World Peace honoris causa diploma, flanked by MIU President John Hagelin and master of ceremonies Craig Pearson.

“This is truly a special place on earth” — Malena Strauch delivers valedictorian address

“As we gather to celebrate our achievements and reflect on our journey at Maharishi International University,” said valedictorian Malena Strauch, “I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude and joy. We stand here not only as graduates but as transformed individuals, enriched by the profound education we have received.”

Malena Strauch delivered the valedictorian address.

“Our time at MIU has been marked by more than just academic learning. We have immersed ourselves in an environment that values the integration of consciousness and knowledge — studying effectively by deepening our connection to the source of all wisdom and joy.”

“Many of you have heard the quote by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, ‘Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness.’ Our journey at MIU has been an exploration of this very principle. We have experienced that the inner expansion of bliss is the foundation of all our outer experiences. This place has helped us to accelerate our personal growth and support our longing to make this world a better place.

“Whenever I would tell my friends back in Germany where this wonderful university is located, they would ask me, ‘Why in the world would you go to Iowa?’ And I would simply respond that this is truly a special place on earth, and I would choose to come here again and again in a heartbeat.”

Jennifer Neuger gives salutatorian address and presents class gift

“I’ve done most of my work online here at MIU, and recently had the privilege of completing my last class on campus,” said salutatorian Jenny Neuger. “It is a true pleasure today for me to see familiar faces from Zoom classes as well as friendly faces from campus, most recently.”

“I love the boxes that we get to build around the accomplishments of our lives. These rites of passage give us an opportunity for a before and an after to really look at what we’ve done. Many of us graduating today began this journey of obtaining a college degree four years ago. Some of us with gray hair have held this dream for much longer. . . .

“We leave this chapter with more wisdom and with a true sense of what we have achieved. . . . With grateful hearts, let us proceed with determination as we move into the future with confidence that we have what it takes to overcome any challenge that comes our way.”

Ms. Neuger announced that the class of 2024 will be gifting MIU with a contribution to a new student gathering, study, and meditation space on campus.

President Hagelin delivers the charge

MIU President John Hagelin delivered the closing charge to the graduates.

“I have the great joy and honor of charging you to go forward with your lives and your efforts to change the world,” said MIU President John Hagelin. “Of all of the wisdom, skills, knowledge, professional and artistic, the most precious gift you have been given through Maharishi’s unique approach to education is that one thing behind your eyes, just behind your mind, which contains the goal of everything you could ever desire in life.”

MIU President John Hagelin delivers the charge to the graduating students.

President Hagelin encouraged the graduating students to make regular transcending a priority in their lives.

“And in the process of life, it will be the measure of your happiness and your success. . . . And I have no doubt . . . that you are serious about changing the world. . . . You’re all about changing the world and frankly rescuing the world from a variety of dangers that I don’t think we’ve ever had before. I know you’re committed to that. Also be committed to that daily dose of retiring into the you inside of you. Get that refreshment, that stability, that foundation, to come out and achieve more, and ultimately achieve everything.”