Join the Mount Ida Community as we celebrate the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme of our celebration is: Reframing the Dream. We want to challenge ourselves to think about the civil rights movement of which Dr. King was a part and how it has already or might need to change, adapt, or grow in order to meet the needs of today.


18th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner

Wednesday, January 27 Doors open at 6:30 pm in Wingate Event Center

Join us for an evening hosted by New York Poet Laureate, Nkosi Nkululeko. The keynote speech will be brought to by Daunasia Yancey, an educator, strategist, and organizer who has responded to the international call to action of the Black Lives Matter movement and is passionate about advocating for vital resources needed by underrepresented communities.

Everyone in attendance will enjoy a wonderful night of food, thoughtful speeches, and powerful performances. Program to begin at 7:00 pm.


One of eight children, AJ spent his pre-teen years on the island of Jamaica with his brothers and sisters.

But, like many siblings, competing with his older brother was what filled his days – and most times it was on the sketchpad.  “Whatever he did, I had to do better.   If he drew an animal, mine was fiercer.  If he created calligraphy, I would too – but it would be more elegant.”

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Art came easy to AJ.  His aunt and father also had the artistic gene.  Mostly, though, AJ drew cars and Disney characters.  “I never gave any thought to studying art or going to college.  No one in my family ever had.”

But, that was all to change, when at the age of 13, he and his family moved about an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  “I entered 8th grade, but so late in the year that I repeated that year and stayed in Georgia until my junior year in high school, when my father announced we would be moving to Nantucket.”

On this next island, AJ found that his artistic talents were not only being recognized but supported and encouraged.   In 2011, on his way to New Hampshire with a friend, who knew a person in admissions at Mount Ida, he took a side trip to the campus.   Fortunately AJ had his portfolio and after showing it, was given a personal tour.  “I really liked the campus and the architecture and made arrangements to come back.”

On the second tour, AJ met the soccer coach and team and soon he was back for an overnight visit.

“Mount Ida quickly became one of my top 3 choices, then the combination of Coach Campbell and financial aid catapulted Mount Ida to the top of the list.”  And, it’s been a decision he hasn’t regretted.

As a graphic design major he’s gained the skills in the classroom that he needs to succeed.  As captain of the soccer team he’s made lasting friendships and found a family among his teammates.  And, he says, “The professors have always been there to help me learn who I am and given me insight into where I can see myself in the next 3 to 5 years.”

And for AJ, that might be in the field of package design.  “I enjoy the problem solving aspect of package design.   How do I get my product to stand out – to capture the consumer’s eye?”  If not package design, web development holds intrigues.

Either way, he feels he is ready.   “I’ve also spent time developing my communications skills.  By working as an Orientation Ambassador and mentoring during Design Week, I’ve become much more comfortable at public speaking and more self-confident.   I know that will help me land the job and serve me well.”

Although AJ is not sure exactly sure where his career path will take him.  “I just know it will be someplace I’ve never been before – and it will be warm!”

For Cassie Durand, giving voice to those who cannot express what they need and want, was the driving force behind becoming a member of the veterinary field.   Couple that with her deep understanding that it is the owners who need to be educated and comforted as well, and you know that her career path is solid.

“The veterinary technician field can be an emotional roller coaster, but being there for owners in some very dark and scary times and then watching them walk out the door with their pet, is the best feeling in the world.”


Cassie grew up in a rural town and once she set her mind to pursuing her dream of caring for animals, she researched colleges.  “The moment I stepped on campus at Mount Ida, I knew that I wanted it to be my home for the next four years.  I loved the atmosphere and the small community feel.  I built connections from day one and I can honestly say, four years later, I was 100 percent right from the beginning.”

During her time at Mount Ida, she has had experiences both in and out of the classroom that have transformed her.  “My most memorable moment in the Vet Tech program was when I helped adopt out Ivy, the beagle I worked with all semester.  I helped train her and prepared her for her forever home.  Watching her go to a home that wasn’t mine, was incredibly hard, but I know she is well taken care of and I still keep up with her progress and success.”

One of the best things Cassie says she has learned at Mount Ida is how to be genuine.  “I have grown so much on this campus.  I am now comfortable in my own skin.”  With that self-confidence, Cassie has grown into a leadership role of kennel manager, served as a trained peer-leader educator, been a member of the softball team, and is a resident assistant.   Another important role she’s taken on is Civic Engagement Coordinator for the campus Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, helping to organize trips for students. “I get to connect people to their passions, make their work meaningful and have the ability to change the way that people view service – and that is one of the key parts of my role.”

Her passion for service learning was enhanced when she had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to South Dakota and work on a Sioux reservation. “It was life changing.  Cultural immersion and education about the Native American ideologies and life styles was amazing.  The depth of knowledge I gained on that trip about life in general is hard to put into words, but I would – and do – encourage everyone to do a similar trip at some point in their college career.”

Cassie abides by the four main values she learned from the Sioux; generosity, wisdom, courage and respect.   She knows these values will serve her well and help her realize her dream to open a dog kennel for dogs with disabilities.   The animals and their owners will be fortunate to have her.