Get to know our SMB MA students, past and present.
Rachael’s lifework is helping children learn how to be champions of their own health, wellness, and future success. She is committed to guiding children to transform their lives from the inside out, and is a firm believer that we have the potential to raise a generation of heart-forward healers, thinkers, and leaders.
As a public school educator, curriculum creator, and writer, Rachael has observed and explored advances in social and emotional learning appearing across the country. She affirms that a monumental paradigm shift toward holistic education is upon us and is part of a growing movement to reengineer the public school experience for students and teachers.
Rachael is a Teach For America alumna. Her formal education includes a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Syracuse University and a M.A. in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently pursuing a M.A. in Psychology & Education with a concentration in Spirituality, Mind, Body at Columbia University’s Teachers College and a health coach certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Dr. Yundi Chi holds degrees of Doctor of Organizational Management in Leadership (DM), MSA, and BA in business and Computer Science. She has certificate of Creating Public Value from Harvard Kennedy School, Certificate in Advanced Education Leadership (CAEL) from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and three certificates from TC of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), College Admission Consulting, and EQ for Educators.
With over 20 years of devoting to youth college and career readiness, she is the CEO of Ivy Mentors Coalition, Inc. (IMC), an innovative educational consulting and mentoring institution in NJ, developing K-12 iSEEs informative learning (intellectual social emotional ethical spiritual) via embodiment experimental AI initiative E-mentorship programs. She is a 2020 fellowship of Columbia University Almawork, joined Columbia-Harvard-MIT startup accelerator program.
Being an active volunteer in Vajra Flame Foundation (VFF) in Colorado, she’s a student of the planetary ascension Master Djwhal Khul (also called “The Tibetan”), and Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship. She is translating Mater D.K’s book of The Matter of Mind into Chinese. She’s also a mother of two adult children and has lived in multiple continents of China, New Zealand, and American. She has published two parenting books in the Chinese version.
For Kimberly Curhan, her lifelong involvement in the arts expanded her understanding of the human condition and ignited a passion for social justice. She holds a B.A. with Honors from Boston University in the History of Art and Architecture. She has been working in the private and non-profit art sectors for the past five years, mentoring artists and supporting arts equity community work, during which her personal exploration of spirituality and the mind-body connection really flourished. After questioning how she could do more to help heal the disconnection and suffering she noticed around her, the M.A. in Psychology & Education with a Spirituality Mind Body concentration at Teachers College, Columbia University appeared to her at just the right time. She is grateful for this new chapter and opportunity to journey with so many talented humans. Through SMBI coursework and continued study, Kim hopes to honor her great-grandfather’s contribution to family therapy with a holistic lens that supports accessibility, equity, authenticity, and consciousness.
Sarah D’Aurizio (she/her) is a 2018 graduate from the University of Western Ontario and an ardent advocate for holistic well-being in education and the workplace. She is a Certified Personal Coach (2020) through the Wellcoaches School of Coaching, accredited by the American College of Sports Medicine. Through her coaching work, Sarah empowers young adults, the next generation of leaders, to change their lives effectively and sustainably by working from the inside out.
It is her firm belief that people can live with confidence and fulfillment, and that this capacity is something that can be purposefully nurtured by providing people with the space and tools to understand and transform themselves. She is driven by the certainty that it is through cultivating our own holistic well-being that we become active and efficient creators of the conditions for those around us to thrive, too.
Sarah is currently studying at Teachers College, Columbia University to obtain her MA in Psychology, with a specific focus on the science of spirituality and positive psychology. The former is at the heart of her work, while the latter informs the framework within which she helps her clients not only achieve their goals but learn to thrive.
Sarah obtained her BA in Media and HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business in 2018. She is currently based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she lives with her criminally fluffy cat and her criminally large collection of Taylor Swift memorabilia. She can be found at www.sarahdaurizio.com.
My name is Kelly Ewen and within the past few weeks I graduated from the University of Delaware with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. I am so excited to be a part of this SMBI program as it really stuck out from all other programs I researched. I aspire to be a clinical psychologist one day and I want to specifically incorporate spiritual teachings into my practice. Ever since I was a little girl, I tried to analyze why people exhibit certain behaviors--- I have always had a curious mind. When my father passed away at 13- years old, my spiritual journey took flight ---I worked with medical spiritualists and mediums who forced me to convert my grief into positive energy and gratitude. Through my grieving process, I became open to yoga, reiki, EFT and many other healing practices. I would like to create a space where I can do the same type of healing work for others and help people tap into their own loving selves.
Another wonderful component to this program is there are students of all different geographical backgrounds, ages, interests and careers. I appreciate this program for the fact that I can learn immensely not just from professors, but my very own SMBI peers. I can’t wait to journey with everyone. God Bless!
Emily Gold has a Masters of Science in Public Health and is a yoga therapist and birth and full spectrum doula, as well as a wife, mother and avid traveller and reader. Her professional work has focused on women’s mental and physical health and wellbeing at all stages of life. After graduating from Emory University she spent a year in Chiang Mai Thailand, working with Burmese women refugees. This time sparked her interest in working with women. She returned home to New York and continued her refugee work as well as her yoga practice. In 2008 she began having seizures and was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. During tumultuous months of MRIs, EKGs and eventually brain surgery, yoga and mindfulness meditation was one of her only sources of peace and grounding. Upon recovery Emily pursued an MsPH at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg school of Public Health, focusing on women’s health. After completing her degree she relocated to Ottawa and again yoga was the constant. While working at a Public Health NGO she completed yoga teacher and doula trainings and when her diplomat husband was posted to Brussels she decided to pursue this work full time. She continued training to become a yoga therapist, which offered her the opportunity to combine her love of yoga with her passion for women’s health. Her work in Brussels focuses on yoga for fertility, pregnancy loss and women’s mental and physical health. In 2016 she gave birth to her son Marcus, who provides continuous opportunities to practice gratitude and mindfulness in everyday life.
Yen Hoang is the CEO/Founder of UYL Color, an automotive and industrial coatings business in Houston, TX. Prior to UYL, Yen was with KPMG’s Forensic Practice. During that time, she took a sabbatical and volunteered with the Peace Corps in the community economic development program in Crimea, Ukraine.
Under Ms. Hoang’s leadership, UYL Color’s revenue grew and was highlighted on the Fortune 100’s Fastest Growing Businesses in the Inner-City List. She was honored with the Most Influential Women’s award in her industry in 2019. Microsoft Surface featured Yen/UYL Color in their commercial in 2017.
Ms. Hoang serves as the Finance Chair and Board of Director for the Women’s Industry Network, an all-volunteer national non-profit in the collision repair industry. She volunteers as a 1st grade Vietnamese teacher at Khai Tri Academy and is actively involved with the Houston Welcomes Refugees and Houston Food Bank organizations.
Ms. Hoang lives with her partner and two children in Houston. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and watching college football. For her 40th birthday, she traveled to six continents in 2019. Great timing on travel!
Growing up in a Black Christian home, religion has always been a core influence in my personal development. However, it was my journey as a Vanderbilt undergrad that truly catalyzed my spiritual awakening.
Seeking to heal myself from past and ongoing traumas, I found myself in a place of severe depression and anxiety. I began questioning life itself and the meaning I had previously derived from it. It was through this period of intense introspection and intimate interrogation that I was reborn and led by The Almighty to my true purpose: healing.
My personal, professional, and research interests began to be shaped by my experiences with using spirituality as a means of reaching my higher self. Themes of healing and radical self-love now drive my subject matter as an oil painter. I soon began conducting research on the use of spirituality as a coping method for addressing mental health concerns, specifically concentrating on the population of Black female undergrads. With this as my driving force, I graduated with three Bachelors of Arts degrees in Psychology, Sociology, and African American Diaspora Studies and I seek to continue this interdisciplinary work during my time as a Masters student.
It is with great gratitude and humility that I embark upon this Chapter of my Life with the SMBI. I hope to continue to explore the connection between the mind, body, and spirit, the loving relationships between the Earth/nature and ourselves, the animal-human connection, mental health, and holistic wellbeing. My professional goals are to incorporate spiritual means as an intervention for addressing mental health in the effort to help others cultivate health and fulfillment in their individual pursuits of self. I want to use my opportunities as a means to nurture the mental health and spiritual wellbeing of the Black community, as there continues to be socio-cultural, political, and economic challenges faced by this population.
Whenever Fatin wondered about her unusual name while growing up she was reminded of its profound meaning; “the one who elucidates”. Although she enjoyed playing teacher when little, it wasn’t until much later that Fatin realized her passion for pursuing uncommon understanding.
This has been the common thread that weaves through a decade long career in advertising for world-class brands; setting up her creative agency to promulgate the cause of non-profits; teaching students to create compelling brand identities; and becoming an entrepreneur running a natural henna business to advocate safe body art practice.
Born and educated in Karachi, Pakistan, Fatin went to Rhode Island for an Associates Degree and graduated summa cum laude in 2003. She returned to Karachi and got a Distinction in Bachelors in Design from Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture in 2007. Post that her short stints in academia include participating in a Summer Writers Colony at The New School, NY and a certification as a Color Consultant from the Eiseman Center for Color, WA.
In 2018, Fatin was introduced to meditation and Mind-Body healing and she developed a deep desire to research the power of the mind that has become spiritualized. She dedicated a year to learn Pranic Healing—a system of healing techniques using spiritual technologies—and advance meditation from Thailand. Since then she has immersed herself in understanding thought vibration, metaphysical time space and mindfulness in an objective manner to find scientifically proven practical applications, particularly in health and education.
Fatin aims to live up to the meaning of her name. Through the SMB Psychology in Education program she seeks the intellectual rigor and perspective required to demystify the mystical experience to better explain it and apply it as a pragmatic solution for self and society.
You can see some of her previous work at www.zeyrzabr.com and @kolachimehndi
Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2007 with a B.A. in Communication, Ryan has sampled multiple career paths, including fine art, illustration, food service, culinary arts, content writing and marketing. He has traveled somewhat regularly, always with the intention to experience those cultures authentically, and uniquely. Throughout it all, he has been driven by a need to investigate the deeper mysteries of life through spirituality, religion and philosophy. What began as a curiosity in Daoism and Buddhism, has become a slowly deepening spiritual path that explores various traditions, including yoga, meditation, ayurveda and shamanism.
For Ryan, some of the most compelling and exciting topics are where science and spirituality meet. This interest is what led him to the SMB program at TC, where he is focused on absorbing knowledge from those two paths and gaining the tools to develop educational and community programs that will help others live healthier, happier and more balanced lives. He believes that living life from a spiritual mindset, with a personal connection to the divine, is an essential ingredient to navigating the current state of the world and will be the norm for people of the future.
Ashley holds a B.S. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. She has worked in several prominent research labs, including the Buss Lab for Evolutionary Psychology and the Park Aging Mind Laboratory. Throughout her career, Ashley has had the opportunity to study love and intimate partnerships from evolutionary and neuropsychological perspectives.
Ashley comes to the Spirituality Mind Body Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, to explore these aspects of human connection through a spiritual framework. Specifically, she intends to study what she considers to be the next step in the evolution of intimate human relationships: transcendental love. She hopes to integrate knowledge from her academic studies with wisdom from spiritual traditions to create a comprehensive theory on love.
I am a wife, mother, grandmother, advocate and a caretaker to two rescue miniature horses, five sheep, eight chickens, and one German Shepherd. Most importantly, I am a seeker with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and spiritual experience. I have had a lifelong interest in studying and understanding diverse faiths and religious beliefs and as a result, I have a passionate commitment to my own spiritual development and growth through explorations of other traditions and cultures. I have walked a Christian pilgrimage (Chemin de St Jacques de Compostelle/ The Camino), participated in several Native American vison quests, had multiple stays and retreats at Buddhist and Christian Monasteries, and worked and practiced at an Ashram in India.
Much of my adult life has been committed to serving and advocating for those in need as well as those who are unable to find their own voices, including animals. As an advocate, I strive to listen and come from a compassionate and empathetic heart. I have worked in a wide variety of fields over the past 25 years, including serving as the executive director of a homeless shelter in my community, a law enforcement chaplain (supporting families whose loved ones had just died), a hospice volunteer, and a facilitator of a spiritual support and meditation group for men in prison. I also ran a successful massage therapy practice, taught meditation, and a became a life coach. Most recently, my love of animals brought me to rescue two miniature horses that came from abusive and feral conditions as well as a sheep that was destined for Easter dinner.
I received my BA in Religious Studies from St. Mary’s College in California, and I was ordained as an Interfaith Minister through All Faiths Seminary in New York. I am grateful to be a part of the SMB program and excited for this next journey with this community of seekers, learners, and teachers.
A native New Yorker, Maddie received a B.S. in Psychology from Union College in Schenectady, NY in 2019. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research exploring the relationship between religiosity and mental health as moderated by gender identity and the self–monitoring personality variable. Before coming to SMBI, Maddie worked as a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor in Westchester, NY. This work combined her professional interests in psychology with her personal passion for horses and equestrian sport. Maddie is passionate about the empirical study and therapeutic applications of spiritual psychology and the mind–body connection and is looking forward to pursuing further study here at SMB. In her free time, she enjoys quality time with family and friends, spending time in nature, and traveling the world.
Sabina Lundgren is an unintentional intuitive empath walking an unconventional path. Growing up around the globe with a mixed race background, it wasn’t until she moved to NYC when she found a place where she truly felt connected to a sense of home. After attaining a BA in Global Liberal Studies at NYU, she took a chance by moving to Los Angeles and pursued a career as a professional dancer. Some of the highlights from that part of her journey include dancing for Beyoncé on the Formation World Tour and her 2018 Coachella performance, Lady Gaga for the Super Bowl LI Halftime and her 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Christina Aguilera in her Vegas show “The Xperience,” as well as Usher, Trey Songz, Tyga, the NBA Brooklynettes team, Dana Foglia Dance Company and the Rock and Roll Burlesque show: Little Miss Nasty. When off the road, Sabina worked as a trainer at Tracy Anderson Method. Through these experiences as a professional dancer and trainer, Sabina found a connection to healing herself and others through movement and understanding the body, as well as the importance of community and sisterhood. She is excited to embark on this journey at the SMB Master’s program to discover where this pivot will lead her in exploring the nexus of healing, psychology, spirituality and the mind/body connection. Some of her interests include: astrology, subtle body work, energy healing, the divine feminine, and listening to the wisdom of the body.
Katina Mountanos is an entrepreneur, writer, and mindset coach whose work has been featured on HuffPost, Fast Company, Teen Vogue, Elite Daily, Mindbodygreen, and others. She the founder of On Adulting, a viral blog and community of over 23,000 millennials who are figuring out how to navigate adulthood in a conscious, happy way. Her first book, On Adulting, will be hitting shelves in Fall 2020 published by Skyhorse Publishing and Simon + Schuster. Katina also recently co-founded a brand new, angel-backed startup called Daydreamers to help everyday adults access creativity more often.
Katina started her career in data analytics and environmental sustainability at Goldman Sachs after graduating from NYU’s Undergraduate Stern School of Business with a focus on finance and public policy. Before diving into entrepreneurship, she also worked at a philanthropic venture fund to create large-scale social impact.
Katina is grateful for the opportunity to attend the SMB program so she can further the mission of helping others explore their own inner development in service of collective change.
As part of the 2020 Spirituality, Mind and Body cohort, I intend to assemble resources to support those who do not have direct access to therapy and need accessible mental, emotional and spiritual support during times of personal and wide-spread crisis.
Pre-COVID-19, I staffed psychic entertainment through Extraordinary Tarot at events for companies like Nike, HBO, Pinterest and Square. It is my belief that intuitive games and experiences like Tarot can create social environments that welcome moments of personal transformation through conversation and play.
Prior to becoming a professional intuitive, I worked as a writer and editor at the intersection of tech, culture, health and journalism. I hold a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago where I studied fiction writing and journalism, and have since worked with Mystic Mondays, Everyday Health and ComPsych’s Guidance Resources.
At Teachers College, I aspire to construct an intuitive development lesson plan with an agency-driven philosophy. Other research interests of mine include art and trauma therapy, behavioral game theory, queer theory and supporting the revolution of marginalized people.
Jesse Ojeda is a published researcher and aspiring clinician from Bergen County, New Jersey. Before arriving at SMBI, he worked as a research coordinator for late-stage pharmaceutical clinical trials in orphan rheumatological diseases at Hospital for Special Surgery. He also volunteers at the Columbia Wellness Center, a community-based clinic in West Harlem that seeks to address mental health disparities in the African American community via faith-based interventions. His research interests include examining neurobiological correlates of religiosity/spirituality and the use of spiritual formation practices as protective factors against mental health crises. His academic research has been published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry and he has also frequently contributed to publications such as One Report, a spirituality focused journal. Jesse credits his Christian faith to his interest in spiritual and mental health, which he believes are inextricably intertwined. He firmly believes in a creed of acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. Following his time at SMBI, Jesse hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology with a focus in spirituality-based therapies. In his spare time, Jesse enjoys recording and playing music, exploring Criterion Channel, and experimenting with new blends of coffee. Jesse holds a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University.
I am a dancer, writer, and spiritual seeker based in Los Angeles, CA.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University with a B.A. in Religion and Anthropology. While focusing my studies on Tibetan Buddhism, I was led to travel to Dharamsala, India to explore the convergence of Eastern and Western healing modalities with Emory University’s Mind-Body Sciences Program. Inspired by the perspectives and knowledge I received through time spent with Tibetan monks and the Dalai Lama, I co-founded Mindful Columbia. This undergraduate organization is dedicated to offering students the tools needed to approach college with more presence, and magnetized a sparkling community of beautiful like-minds.
My healing journey began in 2012, as I navigated a dark night of the soul and emerged having learned to deeply listen to my body and the voice of my heart. Diving further and further within, I am uncovering my purpose and look forward to creating an offering that utilizes my unique gifts to facilitate a path of transformative healing for others.
I am certified in Pilates and Yoga Nidra.
Marisol Perez has been a Physical Therapist Assistant since 2008, and holds a B.A. in Psychology from Mount Saint Mary College, in Newburgh, NY. She is now enrolled at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Master of Arts Psychology in Education with SMB concentration. Married with three amazing adult daughters, she currently lives in the beautiful landscapes of Orange County, NY.
Her name, which means "sea and sun" in Spanish, resonates with her. She is ever evolving with the strength and tenacity of the sea, while her heart burns with desire to co-create love, peace, and harmony with the Universe. She purposely looks for the best in all persons. She has dedicated a large portion of her life’s journey to helping people, on a personal level, to see themselves and the world we live in through the lens of love and compassion.
The calling for her second professional career has been with her from the beginning of time. Today she can say she is finally in alignment. Her respect and appreciation for her current profession will forever remain in her heart.
Mentors: Bishop T.D.Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Esther Hicks and Abraham, and many Hay House authors.
Inspirations: The Holy Bible
Hobbies: hiking, biking, kayaking, skydiving, camping, landscaping and reading.
Judy Pham is the founder of The JP Way, offering her services as a Corporate and Personal Development Coach, Education Consultant and Training Facilitator. Her prior professional experience expands over 19 years in the beauty industry working for top brands such as Christian Dior, Shiseido, Hermes and Dolce Gabbana in Education and Training. She is also the founder of Humans in Harmony, an interfaith program designed to bring together leaders of different faiths through its Interfaith Speaker Series and Discussions. One of her callings is to work with young victims of sex trafficking. She was the producer and host of the Brave is Beautiful charity event, bringing together networks from beauty, fashion, art and philanthropy for a common cause - to eradicate sex trafficking and empower victims to become agents of change. She was raised Buddhist and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of twelve. She continues to be a lifelong learner as she embarks in her spiritual development at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Psychology in Education: SMB M.A. Program.
I am at the beginning of my spiritual journey seeking guidance from the SMB community to deepen my inner work and ground my spirituality with evidence-based science. The SMB program pioneers the most progressive concepts in psychology by acknowledging the impact and relevance of spirituality in deepening our understanding of self and others. I realize that I have only scratched the surface of an integral part of the human experience.
While western science focuses on the ego, I believe that understanding what drives the soul brings about greater fulfillment and a more meaningful experience of success.
During the NYC terror attack in October 2017, I was struck by a vehicle driven by the fundamentalist terrorist, Sayfullo Saipov. Though I may never know the personal and environmental factors that ultimately contributed to the violence he chose, I started to wonder if we shared a similar desperation for love and belonging. It compels me to harness my sorrow and survivor’s guilt into fulfilling my calling to serve humanity. I intend to learn how to guide others in their healing and pursuit of peace, joy, and fulfillment.
My goal is to deliver holistic expertise and education to organizational leaders and effectively integrate evidence-based concepts from spirituality into the human sphere. I believe the practical application of spirituality and psychology can bring us closer to world peace through cultivating inner peace. The bridge between science, academia, and the worldwide community is exactly where I need to be in order to lead the paradigm shift in education.
Ash is a New York City native that is interested in utilizing her intuitive and wellness power to assist others through social media presence. Her goal with this program is to discover spiritual practices and healings in order to educate the general public on the significance of spirituality and mental health with a touch of entrepreneurial spirit. Ash has a passion for Veganism, exercise science, and empowering others to find their true purpose in life.
Yocheved Rabhan, a native of New York, has been living in Israel since 2014. She has a BA in Psychology and a MA in Conflict Resolution and Diplomacy from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. As an educator, Yocheved enjoys teaching and working with children and adults. She has 9 years of experience in formal and experiential educational settings in Israel, Australia, South Africa and the United States. Yocheved is passionate about emotional education and practicing a lifestyle of kindness, acceptance and love. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and swimming with her six younger sisters as well as engaging in meaningful and curious conversation with friends and colleagues.
Chelsea Irys Rendlen knew there were stories she needed to tell, and found these stories through spirituality. Running a comedy theatre with a B.A. in film, she found herself adrift. Depressed, anxious and suicidal, her way out was spirituality research and an array of alternative healing modalities.
With new hope, she followed her heart to her old summer camp, where she became a counselor. There, Chelsea created programs for teens based around the various healing practices that had helped her. Watching the campers blossom through her teachings, she knew she had found her path.
Continuing on this learning and healing journey, she is pursuing a Masters in Spirituality Mind Body, Psychology in Education at Columbia University, and has recently launched a practice in Flower Essences and Tarot. She regularly practices QiGong, Yoga, and Jewish Meditation, and takes naps with her dog Harp. You can find out more at chelsearendlen.com.
I was reborn and raised in Managua, Nicaragua. I bow deeply in gratitude to our Mankeme (Chorotega) ancestors. My calling is to revitalize and integrate indigenous culture, spirituality, and wisdom back into our communities in order to promote self-awareness, collective healing, and planetary transformation.
I have always been fascinated by the superabundant love and beauty of our Mother Earth. Inspired by our sacred interconnectedness with our natural surroundings and ancestral traditions, I created and keep redesigning the Mayauali - Circle of Love project through which I have been serving children, youth, women, elders in rural, urban, intercultural & international spaces with the aim of providing holistic wellness and self-development practices. I visualize this project having a far-reaching impact in the Mesoamerican region and beyond.
I am a proud Human Ecologist from the College of the Atlantic ‘14, UWCCR ‘09 alumna, and Dalai Lama Fellow ‘17. My heart is overjoyed to be part of the 7th SMB cohort. In my free time, I enjoy learning languages and singing medicine songs that share messages about the subtle and powerful energies of the elements. The teaching I live by is that we all are Mother Nature’s reflection, so let’s all embrace and celebrate our inner essence, and dance this life resiliently!
I am returning to school 25 years after graduating from The University of Michigan as an English major. I moved to NYC in 1995 and soldiered through the corporate world where I worked in marketing for Kenneth Cole, Crunch Fitness, Cole Haan, New York Health + Racquet Club and WeWork. Throughout my career, I was fueled by teaching, studying and practicing many styles of yoga, meditation, astrology and sound healing. When I left the corporate world, I became a certified life coach.
I am inspired by energy expansion and tapping into collective consciousness through music, quiet, stillness and movement. I am terrified and thrilled to return to school and join the SMB program, where I can dive deeper into the space that most fascinates and informs me. I live in New Jersey where I’m raising my two children and travel frequently to spend time with my other loves: the Rockies and my college sweetheart.
I am Imani Joye Sanders Samuels.
I love to listen. I love to serve. I love to ask “why?”
As a digital strategy and marketing leader in the private and non-profit sectors for over 14 years, I am an advocate of spiritual rest. I dream of a world that celebrates uninterrupted stillness to deeply connect with God and discover inner peace.
In my current role as Loyalty Marketing Director at AARP, I co-launched and co-lead AARP Rewards, a loyalty program for the greater good. The digital gamified platform is designed to foster behavior change with hundreds of learning experiences that drive meaningful impact.
I hold my MA in Public Communication from American University and BA in Journalism, with a concentration in advertising, from Howard University. During my time at Howard, I studied global citizenship from a non-Western vantage point at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. At AARP, I was also selected to participate in Georgetown University’s ADEPT program where I received a certificate in leadership.
I am joyfully married to Philemon, and mother of Paz and Noire - both who have a great sense of curiosity, purpose and imagination.
Peace be with you.
My spiritual awakening emerged from the most difficult period of my life to date and opened doors that I did not even know existed. Throughout this journey of healing and integrating I have found my true purpose in life to help people heal and reconnect with themselves and with the natural world. This realization is what brought me to SMB and I am so grateful and excited to start this work with the incredible faculty and students of the program.
My connection to animals and to Nature is what led me to take the Bodhisattva vow and dedicate my life to the awakening of humanity. Growing up I always felt more connected to the divine when in the presence of my horses or the ocean. I became trained in animal energy healing and intuitive animal communication. It was a series of synchronistic events in my life that revealed my calling to connect with people on the deepest level possible. From my own spiritual journey, I have found such beauty and insight in the darkest moments of life and I want to combine this spiritual approach with contemporary psychology to create long-lasting, positive change in peoples’ lives.
My name is Nicole Ilana Shears. I grew up in Southern California where I attended a Waldorf School from kindergarten to high school. Waldorf education had an enormous impact on me and shaped the way I move through life. From a young age I was given the opportunity to dive into art, movement, explore nature, and have an open discussion about my place in the world. I was taught to approach life with an open mind allowing me to understand and accept that healing can happen in many different ways.
As an undergraduate, I studied experimental filmmaking at CalArts. Experimental film is fueled by emotion and often explores the subconscious mind and issues related to trauma. Creating work that dissects the struggles and trauma in my own life and in others’ has been the focal point of my art. I have always aimed to make work that allows people to understand themselves as well as how they can relate to others with the hope that they will find some relief in their own lives.
I feel that everything in my life has led me to Teachers College SMB, and I am so excited to go on this journey. My intended trajectory is to understand psychology, spirituality and art so that I may create an accessible program that merges the three to help those struggling with anxiety and depression as a result of trauma.
Megan is compelled by her desire to contribute to a more just, empowered, and holistic social medicine.
Weaving together years as a field biologist, work with Alaska Native communities, health care advocacy in rural Nepal, as well as her clinical bodywork and yoga practice, she feels called to focus her energy toward the emerging science of spirituality, mind, and body and translate that to evidence-based, inclusive mental health interventions. Megan aims to explore, research, and develop simple, life affirming approaches to mitigate growing adolescent anxiety, health care provider and educator burnout, and the hyper-medicalization of the aging body. This incredible SMB program creates a unique opportunity to do this. Megan draws nourishment from her practice of yoga, movement, time spent in wild places, and wild crafting with plant medicines. She also loves supporting people through ritual and ceremony, making music, hiking and biking with her son, and being involved in theater when she can. Megan received her Bachelors in “Ecology and Development” from Colorado College and studied medical anthropology at University of Alaska. She currently resides with her 14 year old son and their dog Lupine among the cedars, salmon, and humans in Bellingham, Washington.
My name is Nancy Silva Villalobos…
Soy de Aztlan,
No por el color de mi piel,
pero por el calor de mi ser,
No por el tintineo de mi acento,
dulce como la miel,
pero por las palabras que hago entender
Soy de Aztlan
no porque haya nacido allí
sino porque siento el movimiento,
el ritmo de la tierra
reconozco la hermosura del alma,
la libertad del pensamiento
Es la fortaleza y sabiduría
que distingue a mi gente
como las espinas del nopal
que llevamos orgullosamente
en la frente
ni de aquí ni de allá
Soy de Aztlan
I am a proud Chicana, first generation student that graduated UCLA with a major in Gender Studies and a minor in Civic Engagement. Both of my parents are from Jalisco lindo, donde la tierra es roja y el sol sabroso. I am a brown, feminist woman who seeks to create dialogue and movements around expanding consciousness and education for all marginalized communities especially folk with disabilities.
Megan Sims comes to the SMB MA program with a desire to merge psychotherapeutic techniques with spiritual and esoteric practices. Her experiences of growing up Jewish in Dallas, Texas taught her the value of a spiritual and religious community. She has a deep love for psychotherapy but recognizes that the rejection of the spiritual and focus on the individual in mainstream psychotherapy do a disservice to many people, especially to marginalized people. Megan earned a BA in Folklore and Mythology and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality from Harvard University in 2018, incorporating coursework and methods from the history of science, anthropology, and queer and feminist theory. Megan has several years of experience in mental health professions, including a year of work at McLean hospital’s adolescent Dialectical Behavioral Therapy unit. She has also spent several years studying astrology with a focus on ancient and traditional techniques, as well as opening herself to other forms of spiritual practice. She is passionate about working with teenagers and LGBTQ+ people and hopes in the long-term to create a therapeutic practice that incorporates spiritual and holistic methods along with a deep understanding of the trauma of oppression and marginalization.
From an early age, Sydney found herself on the path of yoga – a step that led her to a lifelong journey of learning, experiencing, and devoting herself to exploring the interplay between mind, body, and spirit. She completed her 200+ hour Teacher Training Program at Naturally Yoga in 2016. A recent graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she created her own major integrating three areas of interest: Religious Studies, Psychology, and Public Health. It has become clear to Sydney that the core principles of these disciplines are not separate, but rather interdependent upon one another. She is grateful to continue her studies through the Spirituality Mind Body, Master of Arts Degree Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, as it will allow her to dive deeper into her own curiosities, offer her tools to truly connect to herself, and form a foundation for a greater sensitivity to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of life. She hopes to one day serve a population that is affected by disordered eating, negative body image, and addiction.
Currently, Ryan is pursuing his Master of Arts Degree in Psychology in Education with a Concentration in Spirituality Mind Body at Columbia University, Teachers College. He has a breadth of experience in asset management in a variety of investor relations positions, prior to shifting his focus to ministry and life coaching work. Ryan loves working with people to unlock their true potential and reach their peak performance. He is driven to make a positive impact on the world, utilizing his experience in asset management and his passion for spirituality - the Love and Power of God - to sow positive change in society. Ryan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He is a triathlete, active member of his Church, community volunteer, son, brother, and mentor. Please contact Ryan by email, email@example.com, or by phone, 646-469-0008.
I grew up in a “spiritual commune” in Manhattan … the spiritual components of which I spent most of my adolescence actively rebelling against. But despite my best efforts, the discussions of consciousness, meditation and psychology I grew up around deeply influenced me and inspired me to study artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology in college, hoping to merge my parent’s spiritual notions with new computational models of the mind.
After college the excitement of technology – how broad it’s impact could be and what it could teach us about human intelligence, behavior and psychology – continued to drive me, and I began my career doing AI research building tools for the blind population and then went on to found two tech startups focused on story and play.
Following the exit of those companies I spent a number of years traveling, studying painting and filmmaking and reconnecting with the things that give me spiritual sustenance – literature, meditation, Buddhist psychology and nature.
In the last year I’ve worked to bring these interests together into a new company focused on building educational technology to promote psychological and spiritual development and positive mental health.
I hope this new venture as well as the SMB program and community will help me bring growth, peace, wisdom and joy into more people’s lives.
Undine was born and grew up in rural South Africa. She is a qualified Physical Therapist, with a special interest in sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions, chronic pain management and the mind-body connection.
In 2007 Undine moved from Cape Town to London, UK, where she worked as an In-house Corporate Physical Therapist and Health and Wellbeing Advisor before returning to private Physical Therapy practice and holistic life coaching in 2014. During this time she also studied Applied Kinesiology and Mindfulness-meditation.
Undine has been following the work of Dr John Demartini since attending one of his lectures in Cape Town in 2004 and is a certified Demartini Method Facilitator. She is currently working towards becoming a Master Facilitator.
Undine relocated to Manhattan, New York, in August 2018 with her husband, an entrepreneur, and her three-year-old son (currently a Dinosaur).
She describes herself as a lifelong-learner, a rehabilitated perfectionist and a spiritual enthusiast. One of Undine’s favorite quotes is:
“To succeed in Life, you need three bones.
A wishbone. A backbone. And a funny bone.”
As a lifelong learner who is forever curious about our world, I am beaming with excitement about embarking on a new journey through this program. I believe a future full of love and kindness starts with our children, and it is our responsibility to instill it within them. I was born and raised on a farm in Georgia, and I lived there for most of my life. Nature brings me inner peace and harmony. However, the Sagittarius in me always dares to explore and leave my comfort zone in search of my true self. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, I began teaching elementary age children. Having taught in several schools worldwide, from Italy to Los Angeles, I have broadened my knowledge of different cultures and school environments. Through these diverse experiences, I have become familiar with various educational philosophies and practices. Though what has made the biggest impact on my career is the ability to encourage students to believe in themselves. My biggest pleasure is when parents ask how I can continue to be a part of their child’s life after they have graduated from my class. I am excited to continue reinventing myself this year and learning new ways to guide my students spiritually in mind, body, and soul. I am very thankful for this experience and look forward to what this year will bring. The future is bright, full of love and light.
Noel finds tremendous energy, joy and possibility in transformative childhood education and child neuropsychospiritual development. From studies in international relations to interpersonal relations, she loves to learn interdisciplinary materials and methods for collective children’s wellbeing. Meditation, mysticism, and artistic mediums fulfill her life. Besides polyphonic singing and being astronomically tall, her interests include the intersection of intention, interaction and integration for useful, equitable, delightful, and accessible design.