Chris Vasques speaking at the 2018 Graduation Awards Ceremony (photo by Ken West)

In Hawaii with Professor Lonnie Gamble and fellow students

After the commencement ceremony with his cousin, aunt, and mother

Chris Vasques came to MUM in 2014 to follow his dream of living in a sustainable community. For ten years Chris had worked as a professional musician and in various other roles at Boston hotels, followed by a couple of jobs in marketing and graphic design, and he was ready for a change.

He had been thinking about creating a sustainable community for artists like himself, and at MUM he had the chance to learn more about what keeps communities together. His favorite experience was the semester he spent in Hawaii with Professor Lonnie Gamble and a group of students exploring indigenous cultures, permaculture, sustainable living, and intentional communities.

For his senior project he examined the relationship of consumerism to happiness, and whether living in a happy community with strong social ties can shield people from the influence of manipulative advertising and reduce consumerism and the resulting pollution created by manufacturing. He discovered that social factors, such as being able to call upon someone when in need, create more happiness than having more money and the ability to purchase products. In fact, more buying power results in less happiness.

Chris was very excited to attend MUM because he felt he had found his home. He learned the Transcendental Meditation®technique prior to coming to MUM and one of the the greatest days of his life was when he first experienced the group practice of the TM® technique during his first class. “Meditation for me is the counterbalance to writing,” he said. “I need to express and shape ideas and deep subtle concepts, and after meditation they are there waiting for me.”

Chris graduated this spring with a major in sustainable living and a minor in creative writing and received the Outstanding Student Award from the Department of Sustainable Living. He is currently working in MUM’s Distance Education Department designing online courses.

In the future he wants to continue studying community dynamics, social cohesion, and their effect on individual happiness. He is planning to get a PhD in social psychology and work in academia.