The keynote speech for the 117th Commencement was delivered by Steve Pemberton, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise in the world, employing 370,000 people in 25 countries.

Mount Ida College President Barry Brown welcomes the class of 2016 to the 117th commencement ceremony.


A highlight of Mount Ida’s Commencement each year is the awarding of the coveted Lettieri award for teaching excellence, presented to faculty who go above and beyond in the classroom and for the students at Mount Ida College.

Named in honor of the late and gifted Professor Lettieri, this year the Ronald J. Lettieri Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Associate Professor Alioune Gueye, who teaches in the Veterinary Technology program. Alioune joined the college in 2003 and received tenure in 2012. In nominating him, students noted the special care and concern that he devotes to helping them learn in his courses.

And for just the second year, Mount Ida presented the Adjunct Award for Excellence in Teaching.  This year’s recipient is Professor Ellen Stein, who has been teaching at Mount Ida for a decade.  She has taught English as a Second Language, Introduction to Expository Writing, Expository Writing, Composition and Literature, Short Story and Public Speaking.  Her ability to help students understand the process and mechanics of good writing and to develop their own skills and confidence were especially lauded in the nomination papers.

Molly Alkinburg

For six-foot-one-inch, high school basketball and volleyball star Molly Alkinburg, finding the right clothes to wear when she wanted out of her athletic gear was the ultimate challenge.

“The clothes I found in the Maryland stores where I grew up, just didn’t fit.  They were too short, too big, or not big enough.   I love fashion and wanted the ability to be able to have the same choices as other women to create my own style.”

With that in mind, and a healthy dose of the TV show “What Not to Wear,” Molly decided that she’d pursue a career in fashion.  And, if she could find the right college that would allow her to not only do that, but participate in high-level sports, that would be ideal.

“Mount Ida College offered the right combination – The Fashion Merchandising and Marketing Program would teach me what I needed to become a stylist – and the NCAA Division III Basketball and Volleyball teams would keep me competitive.”

Molly loves design, but admits it’s not her strong suit, so she’s concentrating on the merchandising side.  With visual merchandising, “It’s important how stores are laid out.  It’s important how windows are designed and lit. It’s important what is displayed at the point of sale, which often becomes an impulse purchase.  All of that is part of a store’s success.”

And once the customer has been intrigued to come into the store,that is where Molly is preparing to shine as a stylist.  “I want to help people figure out what they should be wearing and what will make them be their best.”  For Molly that requires not only an understanding of design and fabric, but also an ability to learn what makes a person comfortable and what works with their skin tone, hair color and personality.

“It’s not only women, it’s men too,” she adds.   “I am an advocate of “It doesn’t have to MATCH, it has to GO.”  She tries to steer people to be more creative with their style.  “I encourage people to try things on. Clothing often looks different once you have it on then when it’s on a hangar.  It’s all about being right for your body shape, curves or style.”

Fashion Futures, the annual Mount Ida student-produced runway show is another part of the Mount Ida program that is important to Molly.  “Last year I modeled and was the first person on the runway wearing a dress made entirely out of used Scratch tickets!  It was stapled on, but I kept my balance in four-inch heels and kicked off the show in high fashion.”  This year she’s been working behind the scenes, heading up the social media and creating the marketing materials and publicity for the downtown nightclub fashion night.

And, when the fashion show is over, Molly will get down to finishing her exams, then head off to Costa Rica to play in the 4th Annual Costa Rica invitational volleyball tournament put together by  After that, if things go as planned, there’s a red-carpet moment of more in her future.