2018-19 Cohort | Spirituality Mind Body Summer Institute | Counseling & Clinical PsychologySkip to content Skip to main navigation
Spirituality Mind Body, Masters Degree Program
Robert's life-long mission is to inspire and guide others to harness their personal, professional, and spiritual power. As an educator, writer, and spiritual advisor, he sets out to lead others through the process of discovering their inner sanctum.
With more than a decade in designing and delivering learning experiences, Robert has empowered action and facilitated growth in individuals, teams and organizations. He enjoys celebrating when clients receive revelations, awakenings, or “ah-ha” moments because these experiences spark the beginning of a transformation.
His formal education includes a B.A. in Journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University, M.A. in Strategic Communication from Seton Hall University, and more recently, his pursuit in seeking an M.A. in Psychology & Education with a focus on Spirituality, Mind, Body.
I am a lifelong seeker and a constant adventurer. Throughout my college years, I explored journalism, creative media, museum education, and psychology, in order to find the answer to a single question: how to utilize the power of art to truly enlighten people’s hearts? I also practiced dance therapy, tea ceremony, and Chinese calligraphy so as to reflect upon my past sufferings and find the wholeness of my life. SMBI is where two parts of me meet each other: the one as a lifelong seeker who continuously looks outward to find the truth of the field she loves; and the one as an earnest meditator who always looks inward for the purpose of her life.
Getting through a painful adolescence, high-level anxiety, and emotionally abusive relationship, I heard a calling from a higher power, telling me that I could be a wounded healer – someone who turns darkness into light with compassion, sensitivity, power, and love for all mankind.
My ultimate dream is to help more Chinese people to regain the unification of mind and body, awaken their spiritual lives, and rediscover their inner selves. I am currently studying at the intersection of eastern philosophy and western science, as well as exploring real-world application of spirituality in the field of education and wellness in a Chinese context.
Parintorn "Bow" Tungtawee
I’m an outdoors-loving ENFJ obsessed with all things mind-body-spirit, female empowerment, and the science
of love and happiness. I am excited to join the SMBI community to connect with like-minded humans, scale my
coaching business, and learn how to facilitate transformative change. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tufts University and worked in the corporate world for almost a decade. I love mixing business and spirituality to help my fellow high-achievers hit their big goals with fun + ease.
Areas of interest: intuition, shadow work, spiritual entrepreneurship, somatics, self-confidence, creativity,
authentic leadership, and science + ancient wisdom.
Matthew studied Philosophy with a focus on Greek/German/Mind-Body/Buddhist, an undergrad at Princeton. Research Assistant for the University of Miami’s Brain Endowment Bank, with a focus on alternative addiction treatments. Trained in Reiki and Therapeutic Qigong. Interests in practical and clinical uses of net-shamanic ritual, neurology and physiology of the subtle body, music and dance as medicine, and comparative religion. A nice, friendly guy.
I am a teacher, certified wellness coach and energy healer with a background in early childhood
education, childhood psychology and neuroscience.
Having grown up in the somewhat sheltered suburbs of New York, I took the opportunity to earn my B.A.
in the culturally diverse city of Montreal, at McGill University. There I studied Communications,
Cultural Studies and Linguistics, as well as aspects of the psychology of education.
My desire to help others began at a young age, and manifested through tutoring and caretaking positions
with students with learning, social and emotional challenges—an endeavor that continued and grew with
my evolving career.
I pursued an MS in Neuroscience and Education at Teachers College in 2009, before deciding it was not
holistic enough to support my career goals, and left to engage in an intensive wellness coach certification
program in Bellingham, Washington.
Due to my own personal journey of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, I have explored the effects
of early trauma on the mind and body, as well as how mindfulness practice, self-care, and alternative
healing modalities can impact one’s personal well-being, the health of their relationships with others, and
ultimately, with the world at large.
I am also a first-degree black belt in Shorinjiryu Karatedo, and for seven years teaching martial arts to
children and teens, instilling mind-body connection concepts and leadership skills. I was first introduced
to meditation practice through my study of martial arts, and have been exploring its many different forms,
its impact on the brain and the human fight-or-flight system, for over fifteen years.
I have taught mindfulness and confidence-building techniques to high school and adult ESL students, as a
way to mitigate the fears associated with second language-learning, and have also taught social-emotional
and nature-based curricula to pre-K, elementary, and school-aged children, including those with
behavioral and emotional challenges.
I am also a certified Reiki practitioner whose style embodies traditional Japanese Usui Reiki, as well as its
more mystical Spanish and Turkish counterparts. I deeply value the realms of shamanistic healing as
well, and plan to explore that further as I embark on my entrepreneurial venture to unite social-emotional
learning, mindfulness, energetic healing, and connection with the natural world into one powerful
the program aimed to help shift the current education paradigm—as well as to provide guidance for parents
and caretakers to do the same.
Louise A. Rosen
An experienced storyteller, Louise serves as the Deputy Vice President of
Strategic Engagement at Columbia University. The intersection of action
and empathy is at the heart of the programs and experiences she has
supported and designed. She develops partnerships and programs that
create awareness of, and support for, the research and education
programs at the University.
Prior to this role, Louise spent eleven years at
Columbia’s Earth Institute; most recently as Director of the Office of
Academic and Research Programs where she incubated new education
and research programs including seven new environmental and
sustainable development degree programs with oversight of their
programming, marketing, and communications. She continues to teach a
Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development at the School of
International and Public Affairs.
She is a passionate advocate for animal
rescue, animal-assisted therapies, and volunteers to support programs that
provide opportunities for children and veterans with special needs. Her
research includes understanding socially constructed values of the
environment to create empathy to advance support for sustainable
development and the natural world.
She has written for several publications
including Newsweek.com, Forbes magazine, Upside Today, Fortune Small
Business, Vogue and The New York Times. She has a B.S. in Geography
from the London School of Economics and an M.S. in Journalism from
Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.
Currently, she serves on the
Board of the Authors Guild Foundation, and is a volunteer for a riding
therapy program for children with special needs.
I am a creative problem-solver who enjoys moving and shaking. My passion
thrives at the intersections of dance, administration, and community.
Dance is a childhood hobby that became my favorite confidant in college and
catalyst for my spiritual awakening. I earned my B.A. in Dance Psychology at
Barnard College. Over the years, choreography and social dancing has morphed
into an auspicious swirl of movement improv, yoga, Reiki, and breathing
meditations, which I now share with others as customized sessions. My personal
and professional mission is to facilitate the flow of movement (breath and dance) to
social activism — movement motivating movements. Through the SMB program, I
hope to learn scientific interpretations of spiritual embodiment and further explore
how mind-body awareness inspires introspection, emotional healing, and conflict-
resolution for individual and collective empowerment.
I'm grateful to be at SMBI and look forward to growing with my cohort members!
Feel free to contact me at www.keianisah.org.
Jennifer Park is a partner at a private equity firm based in NY. Previously, she was an investment banker at Credit Suisse (CS) and Deutsche Bank (DB), focusing on mergers & acquisitions (M&A), restructuring advisory, and capital-raising services for financial institutions.
Between stints in finance, Jennifer was also the founder of an internet start-up, Joonbee, a marketplace platform for children’s activity providers that enables parents to schedule, book, and manage children’s after-school activities. Before moving to the U.S. in 2004, Jennifer worked in Korea in the corporate strategy group for a large commercial bank and was a management consultant at PwC Consulting Korea.
Jennifer is dedicated to helping others and is involved in many non-profits in the
Tri-state area. She currently serves on the board, as treasurer and executive
committee member, of the Korean American Community Foundation (KACF), a
non-profit organization with a mission to help underprivileged Korean / Asian-
She intends to leverage her experience in business, finance and non-profits to build
an enterprise to coach people to transform their lives to build a better world
Jennifer holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, Booth School of
Business majoring in finance and accounting, and an M.A. in International
Relations and a B.A. in French Literature and Language from Ewha Womans
University in Seoul, Korea. She is also a practitioner of Pranic Healing, a tested
system of energy medicine.
She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three children.
Katy Mumford is a yoga teacher, astrologer and Masters student of Psychology at Teachers
College, Columbia University. Katy has an eclectic and varied background. British by birth, she
moved to the US when she was 13. Since then she has split her time between the UK, Hawaii
and New York. A life long learner, Katy continues to pursue her interest both in the practical
world and also in the world of evidence based spirituality.
Katy seeks out the best teachers in the world. She studies Ayurveda with Dr. Vasant Lad,
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with Manju Jois, Iyengar Yoga with Kofi Busia and Dharma Yoga with
Sri Dharma Mittra.
It was extensive travel through Euro
pe, Asia and Africa that inspired Katy to begin studying at
the United Nations International School, where she discovered her keen interest in Social and
Cultural Anthropology. She continued her studies beyond school, receiving a Bachelors degree
(Hons) in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester, UK.
Katy is a natural entrepreneur and has earned her living in such diverse ways as property
management, farm husbandry, executive astrology and graphic design. Katy currently lives in
Manhattan with one of her seven siblings. She enjoys painting, ceramics and mosaics in her
Jessica is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – a small city in the heart of the Canadian prairies. A gypsy at
heart, she continually works at finding a balance between the yearnings of her creative spirit and the
desires of her intellectual mind. Her passion for holistic health and well-being stems from her own life’s
journey and continues to be an ever-evolving area of personal growth. Understanding and
acknowledging the interconnectedness of body-mind-spirit is an integral part of her life and has allowed
her to explore new opportunities in the fields of subtle anatomy and holistic health.
In her work as a special education teacher, Jessica has explored social, emotional and behavioral disorders;
disorganized attachment; the impact of trauma on neurodevelopment and learning; the use of
mindfulness as a teaching tool; the practices of yoga and meditation for self-regulation; the importance
of play and the benefits of a holistic approach to education. An art, design and NBA enthusiast; she is
committed to and passionate about the physiology of emotions and helping others process trauma and
grief through both traditional and alternative healing modalities. Although she is comfortable in the role
of educator, Jessica also loves to be the student.
She has a thirst for knowledge and an innate need to understand the world around her on a deeper level. Jessica is happiest when traveling, grounded in nature and immersed in authentic community.
Although I grew up around Hinduism and Catholicism, my own spirituality emerged out
of my lifelong relationship with the arts. I wrote a performance piece in dialogue with my
Louisiana Creole ancestors and their stories. The intent was to honor them through telling
the stories that they could not. To forgive and be forgiven; to say I love you. And to thank
them for all that they sacrificed for the future. I felt the healing taking place as I
performed it, not just for myself, but for everyone in the room. Around the same time I
managed a community garden and an herb garden.
I realized that the common thread in my work had to do with healing. I decided I wanted
to begin a practice that would help people to approach healing holistically. And to
incorporate ritual and storytelling back into communities, as this was really what had
drawn me to the performing arts. I started on this new path this spring, receiving my 200-
hour Hatha yoga teacher training from the Konalani ashram of the Shambhava Yoga
tradition I grew up in. And now I find myself here at SMBI among so many beautiful
kindred souls. I can’t wait to see how this experience will shape my work in the years to
I was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up across the states including New Mexico, Pennsylvania,
Michigan, and New York, which I still call home. I am blessed with spiritually awake parents, but that
didn't save me from becoming an only child from divorced parents. Like all of us, my own spiritual journey
during this life, started at my conception. And for me, it is truly coming to conscious fruition during my
adult life. It is my own soul's emergence (via therapy, physical exercise, spiritual readings) that has
brought me to SMBI. And I am thrilled to be embarking on this experience with everyone in my cohort.
I have found my tribe!! I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to study with
these amazing individuals in the SMB program at TC Columbia. I come to this
program a seeker; a wife, a mother, a teacher, an actor, a musician, a health and
wellness enthusiast… a spiritual being having a human experience! I am
passionate about the social/emotional/spiritual aspect of child development, and I
have recently become fascinated with the intersection of Mind-Body-Spirituality
across the lifespan. I aspire to bring light, love, joy, and abundance to all those I
work with, live with, and love, including myself!
“We are one. Everything in the Universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” -Rumi
As a student of Life and the Universe who hails from the rich tapestry known as New
Jersey, I wear many hats with enthusiasm. Among my favorites are mother, teacher, writer,
hugger of trees and the moon, ukulele player, surrender adventurer, and a fez.
As a proud educator in East Brunswick, NJ, I am dedicated to helping my 8th and 9th
grade students find their voices - the pathway to their power within. In this spirit, I founded
Palette in my junior high school: a student-centered literary and art magazine and my
professional pride and joy. The students of Palette and our epic open mic nights have become
the vessel that keeps me afloat in the rough waters of education.
My first Masters degree in Language Arts Education from Rutgers University was only
the beginning. As a student in the Master of Arts Psychology in Education degree program with
a Spirit, Mind, Body concentration at Teachers College, my passion aligns with guiding students’
self-discovery to promote resilience and well-being in teens and young adults. I operate from a
model of Wholeness and the belief that Life holds all. There is a perfection intrinsic to each
precious being that is incorruptible. However, trauma does occur and interferes with our ability
to remember ourselves as Whole. Therefore, I seek to help others find their way back to the
remembrance of themselves as this Wholeness as early, gently and completely as possible.
In motherhood, I am dedicated to learning all I can from my two little gurus and loving
them into the discovery of their own unique paths in this world. I live by the philosophy of
pouring my heart into whatever life puts in front of me. It is with deep gratitude that I enter this
newest voyage on the treasure map of my life. Creativity is the torch that guides my way, and
sacred play is my sacred work. I may very well have been put on this planet to love every
person I meet, unconditionally. Love to all. Peace to all. No exceptions.
After several years of successful career in a marketing and PR in multinational companies, she
decided to dedicate herself in education sector following her heart. As a founding member of
an international school, YooNa has developed k-12 student wellbeing program, run various
workshops on social emotional skill, conflict resolution skills and mind-body practice. As a
certified school counselor and a yoga teacher, her passion is to empower students and teachers
to explore their inner journey, finding signature strength. She is thrilled to join the SMBI
community and continue deepening her interest mindfulness practice for self-care and self
I grew up near the ocean in Massachusetts, a place I still think of as “home,” despite having lived
between New York City’s rivers for over 30 years, and raising my children here.
I’ve always been interested in how people connect and communicate. This led me first to
Georgetown to study foreign languages. There I also found deep spirituality in the Jesuit
philosophy. My interest in another form of communication, the visual arts, brought me to New
York City, and to Columbia where I earned an M.A. in Art History. As much as Georgetown
nurtured my heart, and Columbia fed my head, nothing prepared me for the experience of
raising my own two children; I was mostly, like, C.S. Lewis: “Surprised by Joy.” I took a
number of years to be with them as they grew.
Over the past decade, I followed my heart into working with at-risk children in New York City. I
first volunteered with a Nutrition Education Program, leading numerous cooking demonstrations
in supermarkets and farmers’ markets in all five boroughs of the city, and taught classes for
children and adults in schools, community centers and public housing. I later worked as a
Nutrition Educator with a large Central Harlem organization. Inspired by the effects of my own
yoga practice in my life, I started doing simple yoga and breathing exercises with my students to
see if it might help them manage their tensions. “Can you breathe with me?” This was the
question asked by a troubled six-year-old boy last Spring. That was his response to my asking
him if there was something we might try to help him feel better as he sat alone on a hallway
bench after getting into trouble with another staff member. His plea, was part of what inspired
me to do a training to teach yoga and mindfulness to kids. This pulled together a number of
threads I’d been following in my work with children, and helped crystallize them into a
worldview. I now teach children’s yoga and mindfulness with Little Flower Yoga’s School Yoga
Project in communities all over NYC. I’m endlessly inspired by the children I teach, and excited
by the possibilities for bringing spirit into education for all children. So here I am, thrilled to be
joining the community of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute.
Born on the island Manhattan, I grew up circumnavigating the globe for five years with my
parents on our Dutch built 72’ ketch, which formed my life long passion of traveling, exploring
and learning through relational experiences with other cultures. I have been fortunate to live
and study over my life in New York, Connecticut, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Auckland, and
Andalucia. A classical voice major in undergraduate, my professional experience lies in
publishing and mainly tourism, a sector I worked in for a decade as PR manager for the French
Tourist Office. A burn out presented an opportunity for change, which led me on a long healing
journey for my body and mind I traveled and studied for the past three years via intensive
trainings in yoga asana, philosophy and pranayama. Frequently, being asked to share and speak
about my discoveries during my own self transformation with students, family and friends, has
revealed the power of honest exchanges without fear of vulnerability.
I am very excited to explore and discover about the mind body connection. My main interests
are somatics, trauma held in the body, Jungian psychoanalysis and archetypes, paraphilias and
the psychopathology of them, human sexuality from both psychological and sociological point of
view, yoga and yoga philosophy, breath work, and meditation. My post graduate aspirations
include studies in sex and relationship coaching and psychoanalysis.
I am a graduate of the University of Chicago (BA in English Language & Literature) and
Boston University’s School of Education (M.Ed). A longtime student of yoga, spirituality,
and natural health, I became a yoga teacher and a Reiki practitioner in 2011. I am also a
Teach For America alumna (MA ‘13). My former students in Boston and Miami enjoyed
learning and practicing mindfulness and meditation along with Science, Math and
English. I’m passionate about personal growth, human flourishing and spiritual
perspectives on justice & equity.
After graduating with a degree in Elementary Education, Kristina served as a classroom teacher
for public schools in Chicago and Peoria, Illinois and, most recently, New York City. Kristina
currently works as a Staff Developer for the Reading and Writing Project. She is passionate
about using literacy to foster compassionate learning. Kristina loves reading over cups of coffee,
full body laughing, and traveling. She is a firm believer in positivity and kindness. Kristina is
looking forward to embarking on this new chapter at Teachers College, Columbia pursuing a
Masters in Psychology of Education: Spirituality, Mind, and Body.
Originally, from Honolulu, Hawaii Alisa is of Japanese, Hawaiian, German, Portuguese,
and Chinese descent. She grew up with a young, single mother who is from Osaka,
Japan raising both her and her little brother in a very traditional Japanese household
allowing them to become fluent in Japanese. Being from Hawaii, and living in Japan
(attended Kindergarten) she has been exposed to many different cultures from a very
young age. Culture differences fascinate her because each culture has their own way of
thinking, doing things and what is considered their norm. She loves to travel and has
traveled to Germany, Switzerland, and Barcelona; studied abroad to Seoul, Korea and
Rome, Italy. That experience has influenced her on wanting to further her research and
career with her undergraduate degree in Society, Ethics, and Behavior.
Being motivated, focused, and a hard working individual, she was also able to pursue her personal interest in beauty. This not only allowed her to pay her way through school independently but it also gave her the opportunity to be moved from Seattle to LA. She currently owns her own salon in Beverly Hills, which she started at the age of 23, providing the best quality luxurious lash services/lash therapy. She loves what she does, to be of service to others and make them feel good about themselves and it has become one of her passions.
After graduating from the University Of Washington with her B.A. in Society, Ethics &
Behavior she furthered her studies on trauma, addiction, and mental health at The Hills
Treatment Center, Los Angeles and received her Drug & Alcohol Abuse Counseling
Certification through UCLA Extension. She is now continuing her education here at
Teachers College, Columbia University to receive her M.A. in Counseling and Clinical
Psychology- Spirituality, Mind & Body Program to learn how to help individuals and
children who come from addiction/dysfunctional family backgrounds to promote
resilience and overall wellness of the mind, body, and spirit.
Rosanna Heydenrych is currently a student within the SMBI program at Teachers College, Columbia
University. She is originally from South Africa and has recently acquired her postgraduate degree in
Counseling Psychology. She is a reiki practitioner and a qualified yoga teacher, teaching yoga to
children and teens. She is currently completing her qualification in clinical hypnotherapy which she
will use in conjunction with her skills in order to offer a holistic approach to mental and physical
wellness. Her interests are mindfulness, spirituality and holistic wellbeing.
I am filled with gratitude to be part of the SMBI program. I would like to use my
degree to create on-campus emotional wellness programing that foster positivity,
fulfillment and resilience among college students. I would also like to create
wellness programing for high school students and their parents.
Since graduating from college, I have worked as a writer specializing in
neuroscience (15 years, a vibrational energy healer (12 years), and the founder
of a retail business offer sustainably made lifestyle goods (5 years).
I am the mother of three children in their 20s and the guardian of a young
women in high school. I have obtained certifications in Reiki, energy kinesiology
(ICPKP), Brain Integration Therapy (BIT), and Positive Psychology. I have had
the privilege of studying with Joan Borysenko, Sharon Salzberg, Tal-Ben Shahar
and Barbara Fredrickson.
I created an integrative movement and guided meditation practice for
elementary children. I oversaw a group of parent volunteers, who, along with me,
led more than 90 students in this ritual each school-day morning for three years. I
have since adapted my routine to include additional positive psychology-based
practices. I would welcome the opportunity for a rigorous examination of my
approach and the possibly of conduct a formal research study through the SBMI
Integrative Project initiative.
While I am interested in an investigation of the practice I’ve mentioned above,
I am equally intrigued by in the synergy, creativity and discovery that will take
place via SMBI’s course work and collaborations with professors and fellow
students. I am grateful for the interpersonal growth opportunity SMBI’s master’s
degree offers. I look forward to the possibility of exploring groundbreaking ideas
with like-minded individuals. I hope to join forces with SMBI classmates to create
programing that honors the spiritual, relational and emotional aspects of
individuals and helps them achieve and maintain whole-being wellness.
After a challenging childhood and overcoming leukemia as a teenager, it was during my
sophomore year of college that I knew I needed to make a change in my lifestyle to
improve my overall wellbeing. Ever since, I have been a wellness enthusiast, seeking
the benefits of all holistic alternatives, embracing yoga, dabbling in meditation, and
living a conscious and mindful life.
Prior to completing my undergraduate degree in May 2018 from Marist College, I knew
that there was more for me to learn in the field of Psychology that would allow me to
connect deeper to myself and the world. Finally, here at TC’s Spirituality, Mind-Body
program, I will be merging my passions to help others grow through spiritual wellness
practices. Living with intention and caring for each mind, body, and spirit is what I intend
to share with the world.
When I am not immersing myself in my studies, I am most likely to be found at the
beach, in the kitchen making plant-based eats, taking a yoga class, or volunteering. I
am an active member in various communities of triumph and I am honored to have an
outlet to share my story with the world and will be featured in We Go Higher: A
Documentary of Hope from the 9/11 Kids.
Find me at www.seededsoulbynicole.com
It is with great excitement that I begin my time with SMBI, after 7 years away from my
home here in NYC. I have a background in sociology and anti-human trafficking work,
and I fell in love with Colorado the last 6 years. Through traveling and learning about
other cultures, languages, and ways of life, through communing with wilderness and
feeling the power and vastness of oceans, mountains, and open sky, and through the
study of yogic texts like Sri Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, I am grateful to have learned many
ways to come home to myself over the years.
I am drawn to wilderness rites-of-passage work and would one day like to guide people
in nature-based soul work as a somatic therapist. I am very excited to dive into depth
psychology, ecopsychology, and somatic psychology. I would like to continue my
studies as a yoga teacher, and I am particularly excited to learn how to teach restorative
yoga. My dream is to integrate all that I am into my professional life, so that the tapestry
of my life is woven with congruity.
While I am most myself and most at peace in wild places, I am learning to carry that
peace with me as I navigate my return to New York City. After all, I do love to travel, and
there are endless places to explore in New York. Finding SMBI feels like finding a tribe
of like-minded and like-hearted souls here in New York, as we all take the next steps in
our lives, heart forward!
I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Columbia
University, with a concentration in Spirituality & Mind-Body Practice. I am a health and
wellness nerd, yoga/meditation instructor, photographer, and endlessly curious student of
the world – passionate about making a contribution to our increased global consciousness
and the betterment of our world. My personal spiritual journey was greatly fueled by
contemplative practices and the communities around them, and I've become increasingly
passionate about giving back and sharing with others the practices that have given me so
I graduated from Duke University in 2016 with a BA in Public Health Policy and spent
the past 2 years as a Product Manager at the forefront of healthcare technology at IBM in
the Watson Artificial Intelligence division, building software to help hospitals manage
patients’ chronic and behavioral diseases. I am also a certified 200-hour RYT yoga
instructor and I teach weekly yoga and meditation classes in NYC. Through these
experiences, I’ve begun to explore the therapeutic potential of contemplative practices and
mindfulness to improve physical and mental health.
Through my studies at SMBI in clinical psychology I hope to deepen and expand my
understanding of contemplative practices as well as the neurophysiology of spiritual
experiences, behavioral health, resiliency, and human connection. I am fascinated by the
role of the mind in our subjective experience of pathology and how healing can invoke a
powerful shift in perception that cultivates a beginner’s mind, a sense of
interconnectedness, and deeper living. I hope to develop the tools to support others in
working toward mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health and wellbeing.
Elena comes to SMBI after a 16-year career in Creative Operations in the product development industry.
She enjoys fostering safe, collaborative environments for designers and artists, and is particularly
interested in unblocking creative process and flow. Elena was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and maintains
her connection to Hawaiian cultural practices through hula. She is also working on a body of her own
paintings and illustrations from her Brooklyn apartment where she lives with her spouse and her two
children. She has been a lifelong spiritual seeker and practitioner with a passion for helping others find
the best in themselves through mind-body-spirit awareness.
Prerna means “inspiration” in Hindi—she aspires to live up to her namesake through teaching and human
connection. As teacher of yoga and meditation, Prerna helps others nourish, rejuvenate, and find freedom in
the body and mind. She also specializes in leading corporate workshops, integrating mindfulness and self-care
in the workplace. She is known for her kind and lighthearted approach to teaching, inspired by practice, love,
and devotion to the spiritual path.
Prerna was born in India, is a dual-citizen of Australia and the USA, and now resides in Brooklyn, NY. When
not teaching or practicing, Prerna can be found at a music venue or theater show, traveling the world, or
spending time with her family and loved ones.
A forever student, Prerna is excited to explore individual and collective healing with like-minded beings, through the SMBI program. Finding SMBI was like coming home, and she is thrilled to be part of this family.
Duysal Aşkun, PhD. (a.k.a. Kayla Wholey)
Dr. Duysal Aşkun is a psychologist and a scholar who has extensive experience working with
individuals and groups. Since the year 2000, Dr. Aşkun has designed, conducted and implemented
many consulting and training programs according to different client/organization needs. As part of her
volunteer work, she has served Humanity’s Team, a global spiritual non-profit as a worldwide leader
As for the personal development projects, she has designed her own educational program she called
“Psychoeducation” which aimed to help individuals to cope with their real-life problems in
relationships, health and career. For several years she has run her own workshops aiming to bring
awareness to action under her personal development platform called The Group of Change
( www.groupofchange.com )
Dr. Aşkun is the author of the book “Your First Step to Re-Create your Life in Oneness” with a pen
name “Kayla Wholey”. Since 2012 she also has been conducting research around the ideas of
Oneness, self-consciousness, awareness, mindfulness, locus of control, and communication. She has
conducted the first study on the measurement of “Oneness behavior” and published it in Journal of
Spirituality in Mental Health. She has also co-edited two books in the area of spirituality. Dr. Aşkun is
currently teaching business and psychology courses as an Adjunct Faculty at Fordham University
Gabelli School of Business and at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) Social Sciences
Miya Matsui Artiss
As a child, I remember waking up to the smell of incense and the meditative sounds of
prayer bowls that embraced our home. When I turned five, my father was diagnosed with a
debilitating illness, then got into a major car crash--the catalyst for deep transformative
healing as a family. We then moved halfway across the world from Japan to Canada and
ever since, I've been fascinated with people's transformative experiences, healing, and
My personal (non-linear!) healing journey has deepened my practice with yoga, meditation,
writing, as well as exploring the Himalayan region. After nearly a decade of the corporate
hustle-bustle and moving around from Vancouver, Montreal, Tokyo to Hong Kong, I’ve
recently taken a leap of faith to follow my intuition: to explore the path of becoming a mind-
body healer; to become an educator in hopes of inspiring and supporting others on their
journey back to their authentic self. I’m thrilled and grateful to be a part of the SMBI
community, alongside like-minded/spirited individuals. Nice to meet you all!
Nahide "Ozum" Demirel Armagan
If people ask me about my story for a small talk on their feet, I usually tell them “I’m originally
from Istanbul. I studied Psychology and Film at Wesleyan University, CT. I am a filmmaker and I
currently live in Brooklyn.” hoping that their legs won’t hurt.
If they have strong legs, curious minds, and a little bit more time, I continue “Also, I am
studying Clinical and Spiritual Psychology so that I can develop holistic methods to help children
reach their full potential through psychotherapy, spiritual growth, and creative expression.”
If they have open minds and loving hearts, I add “Actually I am one of those children. I ask
questions, try new things, work hard and make mistakes. That’s how I learn! I play and dream a
lot. That’s how I laugh and love!”
If they are still there, I give them a hug and whisper “I am everything you have been and
everything you will be. I am you!”
Simone Hill Alvarez
My name is Christina Simone Hill Alvarez, and I am a writer, teacher, and intuitive originally
from the border town of McAllen, Texas. I hold a dual degree in English and philosophy with a
minor in French from The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley. I currently am in the process
of writing a book while pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Psychology in Education with an
emphasis on the Spirit-Mind-Body connection at Teachers College, Columbia University. I
believe that every individual is a facet of the universe whose inner light must be nourished,
protected, and shared. As we work towards a unified worldview, it is our task to dissolve all
divisive barriers with love and understanding. We must come together to construct these inter-
sectional bridges so that the children of the earth may inherit a vibrant future.
I'm Kashfa Ahmed and I was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. I graduated
from Northeastern University in 2016 with a major in Psychology and a minor in
Sociology. As a strong advocate of spirituality, I believe that there is a need to design a
more constructive approach to build a foundation of an indigenized psycho-
religious/spiritual model, where, someday, spirituality might become synonymous to
psychological healing. In fact, a developing theocracy, such as Pakistan, can really
benefit from the interdisciplinary approach to Science and Religion/Spirituality. Through
this wonderful program, I hope to gain insight into a psychological framework that is
culturally appropriate - one that is bound to generate effective results in the Pakistani
society. This program provides the quintessential environment for me to further my
career goal of advancing the field of spiritual psychology in Pakistan and also serves to
help strengthen my spiritual journey of self-actualization and interpersonal growth. Super
psyched to be a part of this amazing group of people and professionals and really grateful
to be here! :)
As an undergraduate at Duke University, I studied cognitive neuroscience while simultaneously exploring Buddhist meditation. This combined exploration developed into a deep passion for studying the relationship between science and spirituality. I am so excited and grateful to be continuing my journey with SMBI, where I am interested in exploring mechanisms of transcendence and the role of the ego in transcendent states.
Veronica Kim is a Clinical Psychology master’s student with a concentration in Spirituality Mind Body at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to this, she worked as an artist in Seoul, South Korea, after receiving her bachelor's degree in Studio Art and Philosophy from New York University. Her practice is a creative integration of meditation, guided imagery, art, and writing in the framework of clinical psychology. She is passionate about helping people accept all parts of themselves and uncover their authentic voice to live a more joyful and fulfilling life.
Natalie Wasserberg was climbing a corporate ladder since she graduated with
Business Major; however, along the way through personal transformation and helping
those around her, she realized her true calling was in wellness. By studying with
many teachers, attending spiritual retreats around the world and many many hours of
yoga and meditation she was able to create the life she really wanted for herself.
Now she is on the quest to help others.
Encouraging space for inquisition, vulnerability, and growth in others, Emily is ready to develop and impact future integrative life approaches. Studying dance and movement practices from the age of three, Emily obtained a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in contemporary dance and minor in psychology from Indiana University. She lived and studied dance in Jerusalem, Israel which transformed her spiritual and cultural eye. Navigating her dedication to wellness, dancing, science, and creative living, she moved from Southern Indiana to New York City. In NYC she currently dances professionally and expands her interests in rehabilitation medicine as a Rehabilitation Assistant and Bone Marrow Mobility Coach at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Emily plans to continue her career researching the inter-relational communication between the body’s physiology and psychology surrounding injury and trauma.
Growing up in a Muslim African-American household, Jannah developed strong religious and metaphysical views of life. After working approximately four years in the field of mental health services as a research assistant and mental health counselor, she began investigating different methods of therapy to combat and manage these illnesses. It was during this time of inquiry that she successfully began the integration of spirituality and mindfulness in the process of counseling. After witnessing countless benefit and successes from this integration, Jannah decided to further her education to complete her Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology and Education with a concentration in Spirituality and Mind-Body Practice. She looks forward to using the experiences she’s gained both before and during this unique program to serve, empower, spread awareness and promote healing to the masses.
Laura Whitney Sniderman
With a BA in Humanistic Psychology from McGill University Laura is the Founder of The Get Together, a large annual women’s festival based around knowledge, skill, and passion exchange. She is currently completing her Masters at Columbia University in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Mind Body Spirituality. She is also a member of Lisa Miller’s PHD candidate, Tomas Frymann’s lab, The Interbeing and Self Transcendence lab. Prior to this Laura was the Co-Founder of The Aerie Collective for five years, an internationally renowned, women's empowerment initiative, and was the Head of Educational Programming and a Major Accounts Executive at InteraXon Inc., one of Toronto's most successful tech start-ups. Laura is an expert in the fields of 'wisdomsharing' and transformative technology. Well known for public speaking at popular wellness and technology conferences globally, she has devoted her life to educating individuals and organizations on the neuroscience of contemplative practice and the role that technology can play in enhancing wellbeing. The underlying belief which drives all of her work is that through connecting with one's own innate and learned wisdom, and sharing that with others, one can reconnect to self-worth and their infinite potentiality. thegettogether.ca