From Wartime Iraq to MUM to a Masters Program at Columbia University

In August 2010, Supriya Vidic stood at a crossroads. After six years of decorated service in the U.S. Army, including spending more than a year in Iraq, the Fiji island native had fulfilled a goal she’d set for herself in her mid-teens: to see the world. By the age of 25, she’d been to 19 countries. But after she had left the military, Supriya was at a loss.

“Many of my military friends were starting careers in government contracting and were going back to Iraq and Afghanistan. Others went to universities to study subjects like business and psychology. Some struggled with depression, PTSD, and behavioral issues. But no one seemed truly fulfilled. As I thought about this, I realized that not one person I knew, civilian or military, was truly happy.” Supriya wanted to find a different path.

As a soldier, she had supervised field missions, led teams in the combat theater, participated in diplomatic conferences, worked at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and ran strategic communications for generals and staff officers. In her spare time, she learned Arabic and volunteered in the intensive care ward of a hospital that served Iraqi nationals.

“I had accomplished a lot and should have felt on top of the world,” she says. “But I didn’t really know who I was or what I really wanted to do.”

Supriya, who revered aspects of her Vedic heritage (the Vedas are the ancient sacred texts of India), decided to use Google in her quest for direction. She searched for a university.

“I googled ‘Vedas’ and ‘GI Bill’,” she says, hoping to find a school that could marry those two seemingly disparate needs (the GI Bill helps veterans pay for college). “The only school that came up was MUM.” She spent time poring over MUM’s website.

“When I got out of the army, the very next day I was sitting in a classroom at MUM.”

supriya-radio94844Finding a Path in Media & Communications

Supriya studied Media & Communications, immersing herself in coursework and the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique. She discovered a passion for writing and marketing. With the department’s help, Supriya worked internships at Galaxy Ninja, StartaGIG, Dean Draznin Communications, and the David Lynch Foundation.

Today, Supriya helps shape communications at both the David Lynch Foundation and the Maharishi Foundation, organizations that promote TM. She oversees fundraising, outreach, image management, web content, and social media marketing. She lectures to audiences and coordinates projects with celebrity meditators including Russell Brand, Ellen DeGeneres, Donna Karan, and Oprah. Her interviews with wounded veterans have helped contribute to landing a $2.4 million research study on TM and PTSD, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Supriya, ever the indefatigable networker, grabbed the opportunities available at MUM, which are there for all students to enjoy. “Because the campus is small there is a real connection between students and teachers,” she says. “The networking opportunities I found at MUM led to my jobs. And because people are so sharp and creative due to the meditation, there is support that helps you find the hidden potential in you.”

MUM’s Consciousness-Based Education℠, based on the teachings of founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, takes an approach that values the learner as well as the learned. “Maharishi approaches everything as if it’s a subjective experience — nothing is object oriented,’ says Supriya. “The ‘you’ is just as important as the ‘other’ or subject. When you take that view you really see the totality of things.”

Supriya developed a clarity of mind at MUM that continues to grow with her TM practice. “I see not only the fragments of what I’m approaching, but the complete picture,” she says. “Even when I focus on specifics, when I’m down in the weeds, I can hold the big picture at the same time. That’s incredibly practical because it allows me to work smarter and better.”

Supriya credits two organizations that remain near and dear to her. “My success today is because of the military,” she says. “And as for MUM, it’s prWritten by Warren Goldieobably the best thing that ever happened to me, along with TM. It provided the nurturing I needed, when I needed it.”

Currently Supriya is a graduate student at Columbia University, working toward a Master of Science in Strategic Communications. In addition, she works full-time and is a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

Related:

  • Supriya’s LinkedIn profile
  • Supriya’s Blog about MUM veterans

Written by Warren Goldie