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The Graduate (2020)

Jun 03, 2020 03:40PM ● By Nicole Zornitzer

This is a picture of my cap and gown for completing my Ayurvedic Graduate Studies at The Maryland University of Integrative Health.

This cap and gown will never be worn. So many of our children and possibly ourselves are affected by the cancellation of ceremonial graduation events in 2020; me included on both fronts.

Today, I am choosing to honor myself for the hard work and dedication I put into receiving this certification. And I congratulate my fellow classmates on this feat that was much more intense than I think we each could have predicted.

My graduate school experience was one I waited over 14 years to complete. Ayurveda was first introduced to me in 2006 when I began my formal yoga training program at Yama Therapeutics in Maryland. I was immediately drawn to the concepts presented and the idea of creating wellness in the human body naturally. My experience at MUIH was nothing short of amazing between the professors I trained under to the group of women I became virtual sisters with. 

When I registered for my program, I had no idea my mother would be diagnosed with terminal cancer six weeks into my program. There were many moments that I believed I would need to postpone this education. My graduate school ended up happening not only at MUIH; my studies and experiences occurred at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Delray Beach Memorial Hospital, St. Barnabas Hospital and Kessler Rehabilitation Hospital; all while holding my mother’s hand and becoming an energy of presence next to her. I was applying the knowledge I was gaining while studying; it was extraordinary. I helped patients at Sloan Kettering meditate while advocating for my mother’s health. I became the therapeutic yoga practitioner I had always envisioned while practicing Ayurveda and finding comfort in my teachers and classmates.

My graduate experience was unique, it prepared me for so much more than what I signed up for. Ayurveda and yoga are my calling and the universe spoke volumes to me during this time. I would change nothing about this experience, it was beautiful and exactly as I was meant to learn a modality that is going to help save humans.

So today, I do acknowledge my hard work and perseverance. I believe as adults we must celebrate our moments, even if we are a party of one. Becoming an example for my own children and most importantly my son, who also will not experience a formal graduation ceremony from high school, this is a bittersweet time in our journey. Life is full of deviations from our plans—this is part of the human experience. The lessons we take, the knowledge we gain, the connections we develop and the pride we feel during all of these moments is what is vital to our existence.

My message… Never give up. Dreams do come true. Just be willing to humbly adjust as they come to fruition.


Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Studio in Randolph, New Jersey. NiyamaYogaStudio.com.




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