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Student & Alumni Achievements

Ideal Energy provides sustainable power to the world

Graduates Troy and Amy Van Beek founded Fairfield solar company Ideal Energy in 2009. Their mission? To help the world in its shift towards sustainable energy. Today, Ideal Energy helps businesses and individuals across the Midwest invest in clean energy and save money by installing solar panel arrays.

Ideal Energy has become one of the largest solar companies in Iowa and is internationally recognized. Troy and Amy were invited to attend the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2015.

Troy spent 12 years as a Navy SEAL and paramilitary specialist before coming to MUM, and graduated with a BS in Sustainable Living in 2009. Amy graduated with a BFA in Art from MUM in 2004 and has become one of the top green building experts in the Midwest.

Student films receive international awards & praise

Films by graduates of our David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts have been screened at international film festivals and won awards all around the world.

Monica Demes’ modern-day vampire film, Lilith’s Awakening, was selected for the prestigious Internacional Film Festival of Ourense, one of the 10 biggest film festivals in Spain. Lilith’s Awakening has won multiple awards, including best director from the Optical Theatre Festival in Rome and best film and best director from Boca do Inferno in São Paulo, Brazil.

Johnny Coffeen won a prestigious Student Academy Award for his thesis film The Swan Girl. Johnny was invited to bring Oscars to the stage at the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony and escorted award winners including Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Agnes Baginska screened her 30-minute dystopian fairy tale, Last Tree Standing, at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in France. Her first short film, Milkmaid—which was selected by David Lynch as the winner of our MFA scholarship competition—has won awards the world over, including Best Achievement in Editing at the Oscar Qualifying St Kilda Film Festival; Best Cinematography Award at Festicini Film Festival; and Best Australian Film at the Sydney World Film Festival.

Bringing yoga to everybody

Business alum Jason Aviles founded FLYOGI, a studio that brings yoga to people of all ages, professions, body types, and backgrounds. Jason has been named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Professionals in Delaware and FLYOGI has received a Business Brand Award on behalf of the Mayor’s Office Of Economic Development.

Jason founded FLYOGI in Wilmington, Delaware, a city that was ranked third on the FBI’s annual list of most violent cities. In a place where 80% of his students have never been exposed to yoga, Jason strives to bring the practice to the people who need it most.

Jason says that, “when we come in contact with the connections within ourselves it helps us build bridges to other people’s connections within themselves and that has been the biggest, absolutely the biggest, key to all of my success.”

Teaching the gardeners of the future from a mobile greenhouse

Photo credit: Ben Hanna

Alumnus Justin Cutter teaches organic, sustainable farming to students of all ages right from his 25-foot mobile greenhouse. Students feel, smell, taste, and water the plants, and Justin shows them how to use limited space to grow nutritious foods that require minimal resources.

“Many of these students are from urban areas and have never seen a farm,” Justin explains. “And many have no idea they can use even a small apartment plot to grow food that is more nutritious than what they can find at most grocery stores.”

Justin hopes to influence these students to pursue sustainable gardening and agriculture as a lifelong passion, adding to their own health as well as the health of the planet.

Justin grew up in Fairfield and graduated from MUM in 2006 with an undergraduate degree in Maharishi Vedic Science. His past jobs included working in Hawaii as a sailor and in Japan as co-director of programs for the David Lynch Foundation.

BFA graduates accepted to prestigious universities

Graduates of our BFA in Art have pursued graduate school at some of the top universities in the country—and some have even received scholarships to do so.

Kurtis Kujawski was accepted to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA, ranked 4th in the nation, with a scholarship to study ceramics.

Sara Sanders was accepted to Cranbrook Academy of Art, currently the top school in America for fiber arts.

Hannah Foster was accepted into 4 schools straight from her BFA program and chose to attend Penn State University on a full tuition scholarship and teaching assistantship.

Terrell Smith was awarded the prestigious Iowa Arts Fellowship and is our third student to attend the University of Iowa MFA Painting program, ranked #6 in the country.

Varsha Khatri brings holistic health to London

After graduating from MUM with a BS in Physiology and Health, alumna Varsha Khatri earned a Master’s in Health Education and Nutrition from JFK University. She then founded Illuminated Health, a London health practice that creates holistic healthcare solutions for clients.

Varsha combines nutrition with traditional ayurvedic knowledge to help her clients achieve optimal health. With her knowledge of food, yoga, meditation, herbs, and more, she is able to tackle health imbalances from every angle. She is currently working on a book that brings together Maharishi AyurVeda and modern nutrition in an easily understandable way.

“The need is very real for a new paradigm of health which is more effective at solving health issues,” says Varsha. “I like that Maharishi AyurVeda combines ancient wisdom with modern science.”

She also has some advice for anyone who aspires to make a career of Maharishi AyurVeda: “Keep focused and follow your dream, no matter what anyone says! Work hard towards your dreams and success will be there.”

Found Audio captivates readers with daring thrills

MUM alumnus Nathaniel Campbell’s debut novel Found Audio was named number one on the Chicago Tribune’s 2017 ultimate summer reading list and has been called a “bona fide literary page-turner” by Publisher’s Weekly.

Found Audio is a cerebral thriller that takes readers on a journey around the globe in search of the legendary City of Dreams, based on a series of mysterious audio recordings by an adventure journalist. “Early praise for this debut novel deem it dizzying, arresting and defiantly bold,” says the Chicago Tribune.

Nathaniel graduated from MUM with a BA in Literature in 2008. During his time at MUM, he served as manager of the Press Marketing office by day and worked as a devoted fiction writer by night. Nathaniel’s short stories have been published in literary journals since 2012, and his persistence and years of practice paid off when Two Dollar Radio accepted his manuscript.

“I think success is when you enjoy what you are doing,” says Nathaniel. “The rest is luck.”

Vikas Narula learns how things really get done

Vikas Narula, a graduate of our BS in Computer Science program, founded KeyHubs, a company which charts the working relationships within businesses. Keyhubs uncovers each company’s “hidden organization”—the informal network of relationships between workers that shows how things actually get done.

The company’s clients so far include Accenture, Medtronic, Thrivent Financial, Boston Scientific and Bremer Bank, and Vikas’ unique business model has been covered by Forbes, Upstart Business Journal, and Twin Cities Business magazine.

Vikas also founded Neighborhood Forest, a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to school children in the Twin Cities area every Earth Day. Since 2010, Neighborhood Forest has given away over 2,500 trees and involved over 5,000 children.

“To me, entrepreneurship is more than about making money,” says Vikas. “It’s really a spiritual journey, a journey of self-discovery and growth. MUM taught me that. MUM gave me a perspective on life that helped me see things beyond the material. It helped me understand what matters most.”