||Name: Puki Freeberg
MUM Degree: BA, Media and Communications, 2009
Position: Certified Transcendental Meditation Teacher
Organization: David Lynch Foundation
Working at: New Village Charter School
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
For Fun: Kick boxing, hiking, creating art
Puki Freeberg’s career as a full-time teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique may not have happened but for the gentle pressure applied from a quarter that proved impossible to resist.
“I was about to graduate from MUM and I had this vague plan that I was going to travel to South America and learn Spanish and volunteer and immerse myself in a different culture,” says Puki, 26.
Two months before graduation, before that plan could jell, she found herself taking a phone call from filmmaker and TM advocate David Lynch, whom she’d met a few times through volunteering with the David Lynch Foundation during her time at MUM. She recalls the life-altering conversation fondly: “He said, ‘Puki, you’re going to become a TM teacher and move to Los Angeles and run the show there.’ I said, 'Whatever, David, I’ll think about it, I’m moving to Ecuador.' He said, 'No, Puki, you’ll do more than think about it.’ I said, 'Okay, we’ll see.’”
The next day, in the MUM dining hall, Puki sat beside a friend who was preparing to travel to Bulgaria to take the Transcendental Meditation teacher training course. Suddenly a light bulb went off in her head. “I thought, 'The universe is trying to tell me something',” she says. "I knew what I wanted to do." She signed up for the course, traveled to Bulgaria and became a certified TM teacher.
Waking up, 'Doing what I love'
Today, Puki works for the David Lynch Foundation in Los Angeles as its program director — exactly as David Lynch had wanted — teaching TM to teenagers in schools like New Village Charter School, an all-girls public high school where Puki has worked for the past three years. The majority of its students are Latina girls, age 15-18, about half of whom are either pregnant or parenting, or who for various reasons have not succeeded in the traditional school setting.
“I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing,” says Puki. “It’s fulfilling to share a tool and knowledge as profound as TM with these populations that so desperately need it. At the same time, I’m growing and evolving, and waking up every morning doing something I love.”
In addition, Puki has spent years as a volunteer TM teacher at Children of the Night, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing American children from prostitution. Her work there was profiled in Los Angeles Magazine.
“Seeing these girls engaged in a positive, creative, healthy activity makes me happy,” says Puki. “I leave behind any preconceived notions of who these kids are. I’m open to sharing and having a powerfully transforming experience. They’re amazing, regular teenagers.”
For one of her more adventurous philanthropic activities, Puki skydives
annually as part of a fund-raising and awareness event held by 18for18, an organization benefiting the Somaly Mam Foundation to help women and
children victimized by sex trafficking.
Thriving at MUM
Puki’s experience at MUM taught her that the sky indeed is the limit for young people who are motivated and willing to work hard for what they believe in.
“At MUM, I gained the most important thing I could have gotten out of education,” says Puki, who was MUM class president. “A deep connection with myself and a knowingness that everything is working out just as it should. When I go into the world I feel I can do anything — anything I’m passionate about. I can do it because of the knowledge about myself and my potential I gained at MUM. For me, that is more practical than anything I could have learned at any other university or educational setting.”
Puki and her puppy Harlen live in downtown Los Angeles (photo above, on the roof of her apartment building), an up-and-coming neighborhood. "Downtown has more of a community vibe than anywhere in L.A. I’ve experienced," she says. "It's very cool. I'm friends with all my neighbors. We're like a family."
Going forward, Puki plans to continue working with the David Lynch Foundation. “I’m committed to making sure TM carries into the next generation,” she says.