Author  DRBU Staff

In spring 2023, a group of friends at DRBU established the Living Dharma Career Grant to encourage DRBU students to apply what they have learned in the wider world. The grant can potentially support a range of activities, including but not limited to expenses related to internships, jobs, professional development, and the creation of projects, programs, organizations, or businesses.

Join us in congratulating the recipients of the inaugural Living Dharma Career Grant. We are delighted to see a diverse range of professional interests and grantees’ commitment to bring their ideas to life. We look forward to their showcase with the DRBU community in the fall. You can find their project descriptions below.

Sanju Baral, MA ‘23

With the inaugural Living Dharma Career Grant this year, I’ll be doing some online courses on Data Science and UX Design. Here’s a little background on what led me to this. In the last seven years, I have been studying liberal arts, which touches on many arts and sciences except for the mysterious world of computing. So, I am curious to try out Data Science as a gateway to know more about the data and technology. I’m also interested in exploring the possibilities of using data science in e-commerce and digital humanities.

Irina Passar, BA ‘26

This summer, thanks to the Dharma Living Grant, I’ll get a chance to enhance my public speaking skills by enrolling in a Public Speaking class. This opportunity will also allow me to experiment with bag making—something I’ve been peeking at for a while. In the fall, I’ll host a presentation where I will showcase my handmade bags and present a speech about my experience learning to make them.

Handmade bags by Living Dharma Grant recipient Irina Passar
Handmade bags by Living Dharma Grant recipient Irina Passar

Blake Plante, MA ‘23

The Living Dharma Grant is helping me work with a developmental editor on the second draft of a novel called ROLEMODELS. The project is essentially a means of guiding self-discovery and exploring the Lotus Sutra’s burning house parable through a psycho-spiritual deep dive. Following the thread of the novel before DRBU led me to connect with all sorts of practitioners to explore ideas about happiness, truth, and healing. My time at DRBU has connected me with a compass and reflective texts that are helping me finish the novel.

I hope to share a reading from the book and/or reflection on the writing process. Sometimes I use material like a sutta, poem, or image as a reflection tool to write a character’s inner experience or inform action/plot. I hope to share how writing through—or in relation to—these tools helps me see where I’m at in my mind, how this process can guide storytelling, and how storytelling can guide and inform life.

Alfonso Malagon, BA ‘24

This summer, I will be traveling to Nepal. The purpose of my journey has evolved from just making a short film to painting Thangkas  … to it being a spiritual pilgrimage. I can now say that it will be all of that, which pertains to what I care about in my career path in the arts. I will be visiting temples, meeting people, and practicing the arts. I’m taking my amazing camera to capture this journey, the Vimalakirti Sutra, and my handwritten Surangama Mantra scroll.

The art of Thangka is not art for art but art for being. The Living Dharma Career Grant provides me with the opportunity to explore Thangka, to document, to go on a spiritual pilgrimage, and to make a film about being.