Yutong Wu was on his way to a degree in Business Administration at Mount Ida, when a friend asked him to be a model in the annual student-produced fashion show.   His life was about to change – dramatically.

“I had no background in fashion- had never even sewn, but there was something that happened in the excitement of the show and it opened my eyes,” says Wu.  “I have always loved clothes and fabric and was shopping for myself when I was 12 years old.  I enjoy being stylish.”

Wu wasn’t sure what to do, but after speaking with Earl Battle, one of the fashion design instructors at Mount Ida at the time, he was encouraged to take a basic apparel class.  “I had to make a skirt and it took me half the semester, but I learned to sew and really enjoyed it.”  Wu began thinking a lot about menswear and his mind was racing with ideas of what he could create.

“Menswear to me was pretty boring.  I began thinking of different ways to create fashion that I would wear and that men would want to wear, that would let them express themselves in a creative way, while being functional and stylish.”

Wu is intrigued by fabric and construction and influenced by the Chinese tenet of life of Balance. “It’s the yin and the yang. “I create my designs combining those two elements and trying to control that balance. Chinese culture definitely influences how I think.”

The first collection Wu produced was based on vampires.  While that may seem an odd place to start, for Wu if was quite the opposite.  “The vampire is elegant and wealthy.  He lives a long time and are very powerful.”  To Wu the vampire is proud.  He outlives everyone and is in control and able to take flight.

“My design collection is meant to evoke the mood of the vampire.   It starts with a tailored jacket, that the construction becomes half jacket/half cape and ends with a huge cape.

The winner of this year’s Fashion Futures 2017 award for Best Senior Collection, the critics rewarded him for his designs that evoke the mood of Protection.  “The function of clothes is to protect people.  Yet men and women have different ideas on what protection means.”

For the women’s collection, Wu used greys and soft materials to create a feeling safety.  For the menswear, he used a more hard-edged, structured approach – what men would want to protect themselves.   At the end of the runway, the man removed his coat and placed it around the arms of the woman model.  “I like to twist the boundary of men and womenswear.  I used men’s pattern to dress the women, utilizing the oversized patterns to envelop them.”

And Wu feels as if he is just beginning.  He applied for and has been accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan as a member of their newly offered MFA in Fashion Design program.  He plans to summer in China and then return to live and study in New York for two years.  The program allows him to spend two years developing his collection.

From there, Wu says, the sky is the limit.  He hopes to build his portfolio and experience in New York then return to Beijing.  “There are not a lot of great designers in China, yet there are many with a great sense and desire for style.  I hope to be the most influential designer in my home country.”

See more on his website:  https://www.yutongwu.com/

Providing free veterinary services for animals in Belize – Observing nocturnal animals in a zoo in the middle of the night – Snorkeling at night to see eel close-up and personal – Visiting a baboon sanctuary and ancient Mayan ruins.  That was all part of the week-long adventure for 14 students in the “Wildlife Conservation and Veterinary Medicine in Belize” course, this past spring.

The students got a hands-on, once-in-a lifetime experience exploring the culture and wildlife of Belize, under the tutelage of Veterinary Technology professors Dan Young, D.V.M. and Erin Spencer, C.V.T.

The trip, now in its fourth year, is a mutually beneficial experience, says Dr. Young, who has put together with the help of the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad (CELA) in Belize, an intensive visit that introduces Vet Tech students to the country and culture of Belize, the wildlife and the conservation efforts being undertaken there, and the practice of veterinary medicine in this Central American country.

After departing Mount Ida at 2 AM (yes, the middle of the night!) and arriving midday in Belize, the group settled in at the Tropical Education Center, their home for the first two days.  “We have an orientation session, a siesta and dinner, and then it’s off to the Belize Zoo for a nighttime tour,” says Professor Spencer.  The Zoo is comprised of 29 acres of tropical savanna and over 170 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize.

“Most of the animals at the Zoo are rescued animals not suitable for reintroduction to the wild,” says Young.

Then, with a few hours of sleep and an adjustment to local time, the students went on a day tour of the zoo and met the founder, Sharon Matola.  “She is an inspirational presence,” says Young.  “Not only does she run the zoo, but she’s embarking on a fundraiser to buy land around the zoo to create a buffer zone for the animals and expand the Central Wildlife Corridor in Belize.  She is a strong advocate for the conservation of wild animals and their habitats in Belize.”

The next day, it was off to San Ignacio, stopping along the way to trek through the jungle to visit the Community Baboon Sanctuary, a howler monkey refuge.  The private landowners have agreed to preserve parts of their land along the area waterways so the monkeys can live in a protected area.  “The refuge is a model for conservation, combining the needs of the animals and land owners while creating a source of eco-tourism and boosting the local economy,” says Young.  “At times the monkeys were a mere 10 feet from the students.  They’ve gotten used to visitors.”

Once in San Ignacio, the group met with Belizean veterinary professionals to plan the next day’s Animal Health Clinic, in which the Vet Tech student team would set up shop to administer wellness services to animals in the local Mayan village of San Antonio.  These services, provided free of charge, included spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, treatments for external and internal parasites, vitamin injections, and general health examinations.

“Students are always impressed with the numbers of people who turn up for this health care,” says Young. ”It’s a good learning experience for them to see that, even though the animals they treat in Belize may not be as well off as those in this country, the people of Belize want to do for them what they can.  For some, it may come down to a choice between helping their pet or feeding their children,” he tells his students.  “It’s an excellent way for our students to learn to understand and respect other cultures.”

Professor Spencer adds, “I’ve been impressed with the comments I hear from our students after the clinic. The students exhibit their learning through the rest of their trip as they speak about the local animals. “

The next day the bus left for the Mayan ruins of Caracol, near the border of Guatemala.  Tour groups into the area are accompanied by a military guard, and the journey into the jungle started uneventfully.  Upon arrival, however, the clutch went out in the tour bus, stranding the group at the archaeological site.  The tour guide radioed San Ignacio (no cell phone signal in the jungle!) to send a team of mechanics and a replacement bus on the three-hour trip to Caracol to pick the group up after their day in the ruins.  The students returned none the worse for wear.

The following day was filled with more veterinary medical procedures, many of which would not be performed by veterinary technology students in the United States. “We vaccinated a herd of cattle and a flock of sheep, castrated several bulls, and did surgery on a horse.  The students said it was a highlight for them,” said Young.

The last days in Belize were spent at the Tobacco Caye Marine Station on an island off the coast, where students learned how to snorkel both during the day and at night.  “They saw the moray eel that are the Stars of Night Snorkeling, an octopus, squid, crabs, conch, sea urchins, and a plethora of tropical fish species while exploring the Mesoamerican Reef (the largest coral barrier reef in the western hemisphere)”, reports Dr. Young.

Then it was time to head back to the Tropical Education Center and prepare for the trip home.

“It is a wonderful experience on so many levels,” says Young. ” The most important aspect of the time spent in Belize, however, is the opportunity the trip provides students to experience the richness and diversity of a culture not their own, to gain an understanding and appreciation for those whose lives are at once very different and not so different at all from their own, and to learn the importance of using their skills and talents in service to do good in the world.”  And be assured that the service these groups provide is greatly appreciated by the people and animals of Belize!

Professor Spencer adds, “The students on these trips are great representatives of the Mount Ida College community.  They are inquisitive, appreciative, respectful, and friendly to all they encounter.  This is a great way to spend a Spring Break!

Going above and beyond in the classroom and for the students at Mount Ida College has resulted in two faculty being named as award recipients for the 2016-17 academic year.

Named in honor of the late and gifted Professor Lettieri, this year the coveted Ronald J. Lettieri Award for Excellence in Teaching is being presented to Sarah Stopyra, Instructor in the Funeral Service Education program.  Sarah was particularly noted by students for helping them develop high-level critical thinking in an engaging and creative class environment.

And Mount Ida is pleased to present the Adjunct Award for Excellence in Teaching to Daniel Kornrumpf who has taught various courses for several years in the School of Design. Kronrumpf was lauded for the passion and creativity he brings to his classes and for consistently giving feedback that is helpful and motivating.

Sarah Stopyra puts her heart into her profession

With more than a decade of experience in funeral service in the capacities of funeral director, embalmer and insurance agent conducting pre-need sales, Instructor Stopyra brings her passion for her work to her students. As one of the first licensed female funeral directors without family ties to funeral service in her area, she feels fortunate to have had the ability to work autonomously, gain practical, hands on experience in most every aspect of the field.

“I am a funeral director because it is what I love. I am teacher because it is my passion. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to get to do what I do. The opportunity to pass along my passion for this industry to my students is something I have always dreamed of doing. I feel I am doing as much, if not more for my industry in this position by helping to cultivate compassion, humility and knowledge in future funeral professionals.”

Stopyra finds it an exciting time for her vocation. “Every day I am discovering a new service offering, a new way of doing something or a new product that can enhance the way we serve families. I challenge my students every day to embrace these changes as opportunities.”

In 2015, she was one of 50 funeral directors nationwide selected to participate in the National Funeral Directors Association’s “Meet the Mentors” program, supported by the Funeral Service Foundation.

Instructor Stopyra is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She is certified by both the National Funeral Directors Association and the Crematory Association of North America as a Crematory Operator and Provider and is a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner and a Certified Preplanning Consultant.

Stopyra currently teaches Funeral Service Pathology, Funeral Service Merchandising and Management, Social Foundations of Funeral Service, Restorative Art and Funeral Directing I and II.

“Many people go through the motions to become a funeral director, whether they think it’s something unique to try out or their family connection is pushing them in that direction. To truly BE a funeral director, however, can only come from the heart.”

Professor Stopyra holds a Bachelor of Arts from Framingham State University and is pursuing her M.Ed., from Framingham State.


Daniel Kornrumpf   – At Home in the Art Studio – Classroom – Garden

Adjunct Faculty in the School of Design, Daniel Kornrumpf grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where he studied painting and furniture design, earning a bachelor’s degree at Kutztown University. “That is where I developed a style of work that balanced both fine art and craft traditions.”

He earned his Masters degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and continued his pursuit to develop a visual language in paint, creating a series of large scale figurative painting as well as small, intimate embroidered portraits.

After graduation, Kornrumpf moved to Boston to teach Art Foundation and Design courses (Furniture Design, Architectural Drafting, Color Theory, Basic Drawing, and 2D Design) at Newbury College in Brookline.

“While teaching at Newbury College, I took a wood shop monitor position at Mount Ida. This soon expanded into teaching a furniture design course alongside the late Tommy Yamamato who exposed me to new ways of creating hands on learning experiences for my students.”

After teaching Furniture Design within the Interior Architecture + Design department, Kornrumpf began teaching Art Foundation courses (Color Theory and Basic Drawing).
“This is, after eight years, where I continue to develop my teaching style, providing the highest quality education in drawing, painting, and sculpture, affording students the scaffolding they’ll need for creative practices that may take them in any number of directions.”

In his art practice, Professor Kornrumpf has exhibited paintings and embroideries in numerous museums including the DeCordova Museum and the Ashville Art Museum, as well as many acclaimed galleries and institutions including Art Basel in Miami. In 2013 Professor Kornrumpf won the competitive Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant for Craft.\

His artwork is currently represented through Blank Space Gallery in New York City.

“As an educator as well as a working artist, I understand how important it is for students to develop the technical and conceptual skills necessary to support and inform their studio practice and career.”

Kornrumpf currently live in Berkley, MA which is where he has an art studio and an 18-acre farm. “When I am not making artwork or developing my course curriculum, I am out in my vegetable garden weeding and harvesting.”