In Spring 2018, I enrolled at Atlantic University for practical reasons: The school was accredited, so the GI Bill would cover tuition, and the topics were fascinating—consciousness, creativity, meditation, dreamwork. At 50 years old, I was, to use a cliché, finding myself…again. I had a strong Christian background, and I loved my Bible; I was familiar with the religious and the spiritual, but the transpersonal was new to me. As I ventured into these classes, I wasn’t sure what to expect from mentors or classmates.  

The Transpersonal Psychology program aims to transform students from within by integrating body/mind/spirit wisdom throughout the curriculum. In the Master’s program, students acknowledge the part of their identity that extends beyond the self to encompass wider aspects of the psyche, existence, and the cosmos. The goal, as stated on the University’s website, is not only personal growth but also “profound service to others.” I was ready!  

For the Masters in Transpersonal Psychology, five (of 13) courses are required, but my first semester assembly felt at the time disjointed, disorienting: The Inner Life, Principles of Parapsychology, and Spiritual Crisis. In the first, Inner Life, we learned basic meditation skills and interpreted our dreams, eventually developing a personal mythology, a story with universal themes that captured the defining events of our life. I’d been practicing yoga for about a year, and my local studio was struggling, so for the final project, my mentor, Dr. Bunny Paine-Clemes, allowed me to deviate slightly. She also put me in touch with Dr. Henry Reed, who had written many of the materials for the dreamwork section of our course and, with his help, I designed a dream circle with the goal of revitalizing the yoga studio. The experiences, on both a personal and a community level, were life-changing. To hear yogis share dreams that were linked, dreams that contained seeds of ideas for increasing awareness and attracting clients, was both inspiring and instructive: People understood something about themselves—something spiritual, something transpersonal—that they might never have thought about had they not participated in that dream circle.  

The second course, Principles of Parapsychology, is a survey of experimental reports, studies of mediums and psychics, spontaneous psychic experiences, and the relationship of psychic phenomena to religious experience. The goal was to explore and integrate our own psychic abilities but, for most of the semester, while I enjoyed the course and its activities (especially with Professor Paranormal, Loyd Auerbach), I struggled to integrate my understanding of psychic and transpersonal; I couldn’t make them fit. Then there was Spiritual Crisis, mentored by Raye Mathis, another long-time AU faculty member. Here, we examined the connection between mystical experience and mental illness because people who have intense religious experiences often exhibit eccentric behaviors; some are deemed saints while others are labeled crazy. The coursework required me to examine my own experiences, identify those that were “exceptional human experiences” and determine how I had integrated those.   

I was continually shocked by the open-mindedness and curiosity of my classmates and mentors. “Tell me more!” seemed to be their refrain; in fact, the mentors expected it. If a post or a paper was too academic and not personal enough, I was told to include more reflection. I’d spent most of my life as an academic, as either a teacher or a student, but this was new to me. I was used to research, documentation, citations—and I included plenty of that—but now I was expected to include insights, ideas, even questions. And my mentors not only responded, they engaged—they mentored! I also made lifelong friends in what, for me, was a non-traditional learning environment. 

By the end of that first semester, I was drained. I had meditated and journaled. I’d recorded and analyzed dozens of dreams and written a personal mythology. I’d examined my childhood for exceptional events that, until now, had seemed pretty ordinary. I’d explored my own psychic abilities and was surprised to find that, as predicted in the course syllabus, I actually had some! I’d also spent hours in the online classroom, connecting with likeminded classmates, in a forum that’s more transparent and accessible than I imagined it would be.  

Not surprisingly, I was finally able to make connections between the topics of my courses—my inner life, spiritual crises, and paranormal experiences. Every life event that I had examined was common to the human condition, but their impact resonated on a spiritual level, one which I had lacked the tools or the skills to analyze. I am unique and my experiences are my own but we all share the same types of experiences and, with practice and the proper tools, we can grow not only as individuals in this lifetime but also as souls on a journey.  

Over the next two-plus years (ten semesters), thanks in large part to tuition assistance and AU’s ability to work with military veterans, I took almost every course AU offers, a total of 29. I earned the Masters in Transpersonal Psychology and Graduate Certificates in Mindful Leadership, Integrated Imagery: Regression Hypnosis, Spiritual Mentoring, and Meditation Teacher Training. From my very first day at Atlantic University, I suspected that the school was a dream. That I had the opportunity to study such a variety of transformational topics and grow with every assignment…. it felt unreal, impossible. On their website, AU claims to help students “learn new and unique ways of thinking, as well as fresh and creative ways of being a good citizen on this planet.” For me, the experience was deeper. The curriculum, the mentors and my classmates, helped me understand my soul’s place and its purpose. 

Next semester, Spring 2023, the dream continues, as I’ve been invited to join the faculty of Atlantic University as a mentor in the Transpersonal Psychology department. I don’t know yet which course(s) I’ll be teaching, but I will teach any or all with equal joy. If my experience serves as a testimony, then student application and mentor engagement are key to the experience being one of growth in addition to learning. I intend to model the mentors I had and provide a safe, fun space for my students to find themselves, whether for the first time or the fiftieth. 


Spring is around the corner and that means it's time to awaken to your inner transformation. Atlantic University offers a variety of online programs that enrich the lives of their students through inspired, mindful, and transformative learning. Learn more at