50 years of Naropa
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Connor Heikkila

Photo by Sofia Drobinskaya

Connor Heikkila, a recent graduate of Naropa University, was fueled by a yearning for genuine learning and a desire to aid others through art. Connor’s initial disengagement with conventional education pushed them to seek an alternative, which prompted them to explore unconventional avenues and ultimately guided them to Naropa University. Upon entering Naropa, Connor’s proactive spirit quickly manifested through their involvement as an officer in the Student Union of Naropa University (SUN) and their on-campus job.

In this photo, Connor hosts Queer Prom, a SUN-sponsored event celebrating inclusivity, diversity, and self-expression within the Naropa community. This event exemplifies Connor’s dedication to fostering an environment where individuals can authentically express themselves and find a sense of belonging. Connor’s multifaceted engagement, from leadership in SUN to their role as a Resident Assistant in Snow Lion Residence Hall, showcases their commitment to creating an enriching and supportive experience for their peers.

Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi
Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher who made significant contributions to the dissemination of Zen Buddhism in the West. He was known for his teachings on meditation, mindfulness, and the integration of spiritual practice into everyday life. He encouraged individuals to find wisdom and presence in all things. Learn more
Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka taught at Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School during the late 1970s and early 1980s teaching summer writing programs and workshops. His presence brought a unique perspective to the school’s curriculum, emphasizing social justice, political activism, and African American cultural experiences in his teaching. Learn more
Barbara Dilley 
Barbara Dilley, a luminary of the dance world, has profoundly shaped the trajectory of Naropa University. Born in 1938 near Lake Michigan, her journey in dance began with Audree Estey and Helen Priest Rogers, leading her to Merce Cunningham’s company and a transformative era with the Grand Union improvisational ensemble. Learn more
Gregory Corso
Gregory Corso was a renowned poet and a key figure in the Beat Generation, a literary movement that explored alternative forms of self-expression, spirituality, and countercultural ideas. His poetry is characterized by its spontaneity, emotional intensity, and direct language as he explored themes of love, alienation, and social rebellion. Learn more
Anne Waldman
Anne Waldman is co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa, Distinguished Professor of Poetics, and director of Naropa’s Summer Writing Program—and that barely scrapes the surface of her contribution to the University. Learn more
Allen Ginsberg 
Allen Ginsberg was a groundbreaking poet, writer, central figure of the Beat Generation, and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa alongside Anne Waldman and Diane diPrima. He was an outspoken advocate for civil rights, anti-war efforts, LGBTQ+ rights, and other social justice causes. Learn more
Barbara Bash
Barbara Bash is an accomplished calligrapher and performance artist who arrived to Naropa University’s faculty team in its early days. She served as a bridge for contemplative and artistic environments with her unique approach that combined Eastern and Western traditions. Learn more
Chogyam Trungpa
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was the visionary founder of Naropa University. Born in Tibet, he was recognized as a tulku (reincarnated teacher) at a young age and received extensive training in Tibetan monastic traditions. Learn more
Bobbie Louise Hawkins
Bobbie Louise Hawkins was an accomplished writer, poet and storyteller and Naropa faculty of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics from 1978-2010. She was known for her dynamic teaching style and her commitment to nurturing the creative growth of her students. Learn more
Juan Pablo Fernández Garcí
Juan Pablo Fernández Garcí is an international undergraduate student from Mexico, whose artistic passion and spiritual exploration have found a nurturing home at Naropa University. Learn more
Natalie Hsu
Natalie Hsu, a dedicated senior at Naropa University, has found her calling at the intersection of art and education. With a major in art therapy and a minor in elementary education, Natalie’s journey at Naropa is a testament to her unwavering commitment to holistic and transformative learning. Learn more
Ramon Parish
Ramon Parish, an esteemed core assistant professor in Naropa’s Interdisciplinary Studies department, brings a wealth of interdisciplinary experience to his role. His unique approach encompasses ritual and ceremony as tools for community development, intercultural understanding, ecological awareness, and personal transformation. Learn more
Regina Smith
Regina Smith, a dynamic and spirited educator, stands as a driving force within the Naropa University community. As the Vice President of Mission, Culture, and Inclusive Community, her dedication is steadfastly inspired by poetic vision while firmly grounded in heart-and-body-centered clarity and compassion. Learn more
Nataraja Kallio
Nataraja Kallio stands as a luminary within Naropa University’s academic tapestry, having steadfastly served as the lead faculty and Chair of the BA Yoga Studies program since 2005. His profound influence extends beyond the classroom, as he played a pivotal role in designing the innovative MA Yoga Studies program recently launched by the institution. Learn more
Fern Deininger & Michael Bauer
Alumnx Fern Deininger stands as a testament to the transformative power of contemplative education. During her time at Naropa, she was deeply engaged in the student community, serving as Co-Chair of the Student Union of Naropa and Manager of Naropa’s Bike Shack. Learn more
Paula Gasparini-Santos 
Paula Gasparini-Santos shines as an exceptional and heart-centered alumnx of Naropa University, leaving an indelible mark on both her personal journey and the communities she touches. Paula's journey is one of multicultural exploration, as she is an immigrant artist born in Vitória, Brazil, who has embraced life across numerous cities and countries. Learn more
Sedona Moreno-Castelan, Evey Healy, and Austin Lockey
Naropa University alumnx Sedona Moreno-Castelan, Evey Healy, and Austin Lockey, former leaders of Naropa’s Acro-Yoga & Circus club, embody the institution’s transformative mission through their vibrant endeavors. United by the common thread of mindfulness and connection, these individuals bring their unique backgrounds and passions to the stage, both within Naropa’s nurturing community and beyond. Learn more
Bataan Faigao
Bataan Faigao, was a beloved Naropa University professor and published poet who directed the Naropa’s Traditional Eastern Arts program. Bataan along with his wife, Jane Faigao, were instrumental in founding Traditional Eastern Arts program, and over the course of his thirty-year tenure, he inspired and taught countless students the arts of T’ai-chi Ch’uan Learn more

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YOU ARE READY.

This is where experiential learning meets academic rigor. Where you challenge your intellect and uncover your potential. Where you discover the work you’re moved to do—then use it to transform our world.

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YOU ARE READY.

This is where experiential learning meets academic rigor. Where you challenge your intellect and uncover your potential. Where you discover the work you’re moved to do—then use it to transform our world.

“*” indicates required fields