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Victor Nhul.

Victor Nhul's journey of self-discovery at the U took him in unexpected directions.

A new believer

Puckett scholarship helped U grad journey from business to balance--and find himself along the way

by Tony Baisley

From M, fall 2007

As a high school senior, Victor Nhul learned that he'd been selected for the U's Puckett Scholars program. He remembers being in awe of the late Minnesota Twins superstar. "What Kirby achieved in his lifetime was amazing," Nhul recalls. "To me, receiving his scholarship was an acknowledgment that I could take some academic risks to find myself and my strengths."

A 2007 Carlson School of Management graduate, Nhul began his academic risk-taking with courses through the Center for Spirituality & Healing. First up was a course on Reiki, a hands-on healing technique that promotes relaxation and reduces stress.

"Before taking that course, I would have deemed myself insane not only to participate in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) but willfully practice it on others," he explains. "But I was surprised by what I learned and noticed a shift in my thinking from the science-based approaches of Western thought, in which problems are isolated and treated separately, toward a balanced approach that ultimately encourages prevention."

SUPPORTING MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES

One course that contributed to Victor Nhul's transformation through the Center for Spirituality & Healing was Ways of Thinking About Health. "Through class field trips, students get to explore a wide range of health care systems, including indigenous North American medicine, Vedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, African American healing, as well as biomedicine," says Craig Hassel, who teaches the course.

But the travel costs incurred to experience healing methods in places such as the White Earth Indian Reservation in northwestern Minnesota or Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, threatened to keep some students from taking the class.

"The experiential learning these trips afforded is invaluable," says Hassel. "Without private support, we would have to have imposed a student fee, creating a financial barrier for many students. Thankfully, the Marbrook Foundation understood the value of this course and stepped up to support us."

Thanks to scholarship support and the U's flat tuition rate for full-time students, Nhul was able to take six more CAM courses while still completing majors in marketing, risk management and insurance, and entrepreneurship. Nhul got in touch with his true interests as a result of his CAM classes--from Advanced Reiki Healing to the privately supported Ways of Thinking About Health. Debbie Ringdahl, who taught Nhul's Reiki courses, saw firsthand how transformational the experience was for him. "I was blown away by his willingness to grow, and I was really touched by his honesty," says Ringdahl. "I believe Reiki just opened Victor up to be more of who he already was. He is an authentic guy who connects easily with others."

Now Nhul, too, has a better sense of his own path. "Originally I was planning on living the American Dream through purely monetary means. I was ready to accept 60- to 70-hour work weeks doing the same thing every day because I believed that was the way to success," he recalls. "The CAM courses made me realize that I was cheating myself by denying my other abilities. I now believe that success is mastering many different skills and having a variety of experiences."

A recent graduate, he's turned away from the security of a job in the business world and is looking for work in the nonprofit sector: "The Center for Spirituality & Healing, along with my Puckett Scholarship, have helped me realize that taking risks can be worth the rewards. It's healthy to explore and change one's point of view."


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