Dhianjot Megalli, Class of 2009

Dhianjot Singh attended MPA for grades 10, 11 and 12. He graduated in 2009. In August 2011 he came back to MPA to work as a staff member for three years as a Mukhia Jethadar.

Japjeet: What have you been up to since you left MPA?

Dhianjot: After MPA I got my emergency medical technician, my EMT, the first level of being in an ambulance.  I worked in New Jersey for about a year and then went back to North Dakota. I started in small little villages around North Dakota, very rural, almost frontier and then I went into bigger towns. Now I’m in the capital city and I have became a paramedic. So now I’m a paramedic and I help teach other paramedics to become paramedics. I like to work a lot. It’s a lot of fun. It’s been pretty amazing. I’m also almost done with my pre-med so I might go to medical school but I’m not sure yet. I already have a career. I love being a paramedic. I get down and dirty, I get to be in the most base emotions at all times. As a doctor, in this day in age, you tend to be disconnected a lot from the patient. I like being connected with people and seeing the environment they live in. It’s very rarely a nice environment but knowing them at that level that you can’t get on any other job. I think it would be better for my health in many ways to go into medical school. But at the same time, I love what I’m doing right now.

As I said when I left India, when it’s time for me to go, it’ll be clear. So when it’s time for me to move on to my next thing, it’ll be very clear. In India, it was clear that it was time for me to seek this job. I didn’t necessarily want to go but at the same time, I knew that it was time for me to go. MPA has taught me to always have faith. I’m not really religious by any means anymore. And I’m not really “spiritual” and I don’t have necessarily the strongest of sadhanas, but the mindset… I am an MPA kid. So whenever someone says, are you Sikh or are you a yogi or are you this, are you that? I’m like, “No, I’m an MPA kid.” And it’s as simple as that.

I’m very punctual, never late. I never call in sick even if I should be calling in sick, I don’t. I can do ridiculous hours. I have mind over matter in many ways and I don’t have an attachment to life and death. And that is all things I gained from Miri Piri Academy. Literally, I try to live my life in chardi kala every day and I try to live my life with the mindset of Akal every day. And that, I think, was the essence that MPA gave to me. Everyone gets their thing from MPA. Mine was that.

J: Yeah and you’re in a field where that’s very relevant. You’re confronted with it every day.

DS: While I was here I was confronted with it as well.

J: Right, with the death of Teja Singh. You were the person that jumped in to try to save him?

DS: Yes. It was the first time that I had to manage a scenario and also communicate with a family on how the event occurred. And I do that now multiple times a day. It was interesting because when it happened everyone outside of MPA was like, “Send us strength,” do this, do that. MPA has its faults, so does everything, but in the end, we’re sangat, in that word. It’s such a community, so tight-knit that we can heal within ourselves. Jugat and Kash were the reasons, and the students, everyone obviously. But Jugat and Kash, they were instantly there. And Kash didn’t come to help with the kids. He didn’t come to manage the scenario. He came for me. When Jugat came, you know, he’s Jugat. He comes in and everything falls into place the way it’s supposed to. But Kash came for me and he helped me through.

It was traumatic. Obviously, it wasn’t a very great situation. He was a great kid and he is dearly missed. But at the same time, the scenario that occurred allowed me to be the man that I am today. And it taught me that I don’t need to be a victim of a scenario that is out of my control. That is something that MPA develops, probably almost above everything, is the change of the mindset of victimization. To not to identify with my challenges; to recognize them as challenges to overcome. Because in this day and age, we have a lot of, “I am this”, “I am that,” “I identify as this.” Everything’s about identification. And id, ego, it’s a simple as that.

And MPA taught me that as soon as you start identifying as something lesser than God – and again, I’m not spiritual or a yogi – but because of MPA, I have a toolbox and it’s always there. I use it every day. When I see a call, I’m instantly in mantras. When I start losing control of my emotions on something, I’m instantly into a mantra. It’s subconscious. My partners will be like, “What are you saying?” I’m like, “Oh, it’s nothing.” Because I’ll be saying it out loud, randomly. I just go straight into Reman or straight into whatever feeling I get, I start chanting. And that is because of MPA, because I was a very dedicated MPA kid. I did my hours and hours of meditation. I was the guy who did every sadhana. I did seva then sadhana, then went to school, then did gatka, soccer, basketball. I did the full program as much as possible and it’s paying off now. My health isn’t the best, because I work a lot and I don’t sleep. There are reasons why you should sleep. But at the same time, my mental health, in many ways, is probably the best that it could be at this moment in my life.

J: We do these interviews to see what our grads are up to, what skills they have, what we’re actually training. What are we actually developing?

DS: MPA kids. Simple as that. This place is awesome. I owe MPA my life. I tell people this. If Jugat called me back tomorrow and said, “Hey, we need you,” I would come in an instant to him. Without a doubt.

J: How’d you end up at MPA in the first place?

DS: Well, I started off with the classic America story. I’m half Egyptian, half Scottish. My family had a nice business and everything was going well, two businesses. But the next thing you know, we went bankrupt when I was 13 or 14. And then my parents got divorced. And at the same time I started smoking weed and drinking at the age of 12. Doing the whole New Mexico party lifestyle. And so by the age of 15, I was pretty much out of control.
Well my dad moved down to Espanola and we’ve always been close friends with Harimandir, Sarib Sarong Kaur, along with Hari Jot and Guru Jot Singh. I’ve known them since I was a kid. They were always part of my family’s business. I wasn’t close with them but our family knew them really well.

So when my dad moved from Los Alamos, New Mexico down to Espanola, he started working with Harimandir Singh in the IT department at Akal Security. I went down and visited for spring break and he told me that tomorrow morning he’s waking up at 3:00 in the morning to do yoga and meditation and these things that they call sadhana. I thought that it sounded pretty cool because the one thing my dad and I always had was that we’d randomly get together and try to meditate. We didn’t know what to do but we’d just try. It was the one little connection we had. And so I was like, all right, why not? We woke up, went to the gurdwara, did the yoga which was really hard. I had never done yoga. I had to sit on six pillows but I thought that it is great. It was the coolest experience of my life.

I remember walking back down to my dad’s house thinking that was fun. I was planning on going to Albuquerque for a rave or something but decided to stay one more day with my dad to do sadhana. Next thing you know, I did five days in a row. Sadhana was epic. Instead of going to sleep at 3:00 in the morning for my spring break, I was waking up at 3:00 in the morning. Very different than I would have ever expected. I even asked my dad, “Hey, I’d like to go with my friends to a metal concert.” And without my dad even hesitating, he was like, “Yeah, go.” Usually I’d have to fight. It was the nicest thing he’d ever said. So I went to the metal concert. Didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t feel like I needed to. Everyone else was but I just felt for the first time not wanting to.

The next day I did one more day of sadhana and it was the coolest thing ever. On Sunday I went to gudwara with everyone and asked “Where are all the kids my age?” They’re like, “Oh, they’re in India.” I put that in the back of my mind. At the end of the week, Gurmeet, my dad and my stepmom chose my name the Gursikh way. We chose my name as Dhianjot, D-H-I-A-N-J-O-T, which was both focused light and enlightened through meditation. And it just felt so right because it was the first week of my life that I meditated. And then everything fell in place. I decided to go to India. And then the rest is history in that way. In between, I’d live in Egypt, stay with my dad or stay with my mom. I moved out of my family’s house at that point. Occasionally, I’d be back just to visit, but from then on I was free. My parents saw that I was no longer an idiot. I truly dedicated myself to MPA. I did the full schedule. I did everything. It was my life.

I love it because I talk to these kids and so many of them have such a similar story. And I think “This is exactly what the school needs.” It doesn’t need kids being told to go. The school needs kids who want to make that change. And I honestly, truly believe that this school is the best it’s ever been. It just keeps on getting better. When I was here, it was still a little bit more rough and tumble, even as a staff member. Now everything is a lot more contained. I wish the kids were almost more mischievous sometimes. That’s how contained it is. And the only lack of mischievous behavior and mischief in general, is because of cellphones and electronics.

But everything evolves. We went on jalouses almost every week and we would go hard. That would be imbalanced for this day and age. We’re not in that time. We talk to parents every day. We send emails monthly. It wasn’t like that. I talked to my parents once a month, maybe. They would hear from the Mukhia Jethadars once every semester. If they asked for more, they’d get more. But if they didn’t, then they didn’t. And that is good because the idea is you’re detaching them from the neurosis of their parents, and that you’re creating the discipline from a third party, so that then the parents can be there for compassion and that part of life, not for the discipline. That’s a huge message of Yogi Bhajan. Now that’s not the case as much, so it’s a little different. Not in a bad way, it’s just different.

When you look at the people who are the most successful, they weren’t academic obsessive at all. Sri Krishna’s in medical school. She did the program. Yeah, she was good at school but she did the program. Every single person who is successful from MPA did the program.

Did you have a good time being back?
Oh my God, it was a necessity. I’m very happy being back. It was cool seeing all my kids who I took care of, the 11th and 12th graders. Because these are my juniors. My first year here, they were in fifth and sixth grade. And then they became intermediates when I went into the intermediate dorm and was in charge of the boys. So as they grew up, I grew up and vice versa. Now, I come back and they’re all amazing at soccer and basketball and sword, martial arts. It’s pretty epic.