Robin Melavalin, Director of the Center for Global Connections, is a staff contributor to She is a cultural anthropologist and has a wealth of experience with the internationalization of college campuses.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

There are 196 countries in the world. How many have you studied? Visited? Where do you want to go?

Mount Ida is a world-traveling community. Two vet tech students, Kelly and Brittany, were in Australia last semester on a study abroad program. Brittany petted a kangaroo and tasted kangaroo meat in the same day. A group of students just returned from China, led by Professor Liang Tang, Ph.D., where they visited businesses, met with CAOs, explored the Great Wall and tasted jellyfish.

Faculty are planning curriculum development trips to India, Mexico and China this summer and will give presentations to the Mount Ida community. New faculty-led travel courses are being developed for vet tech students to study tropical wildlife in Belize and for students in other majors to travel with their class. We are on the move.

Travel involves the art of navigating different time zones, currencies and cultures and constantly adjusting to new surroundings. It is a whole body experience. Travelers notice the tastes, sounds, sights and smells of a place as they move about, noting similarities and differences from what they are used to. This changes a person, creating a deeper sense of self and worldly awareness about diversity, current events and ways of living in other places.

A book is a window into the author’s soul. Last semester, our “Visions from Afar” exhibit brought you into the worldly experience of creative people who have traveled far and wide. To learn more about our global perspective through art, check The Gallery at Mount Ida this fall in Carlson Hall.

When Jackie Levy ’01 came to Mount Ida, she knew that she wanted to work with animals in some capacity. Now, Levy has found her niche at the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts where she is employed as a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) and Certified Canine Rehab Practitioner (CCRP).

Classroom to career

Levy came to Mount Ida to complete her associate degree for vet tech, while working full-time in the field. Through balancing her coursework and career, she was able to maximize her learning experience outside of the classroom with applying real-world skills to her studies. As a result of spending the first eight years of her vet tech career at VCA Roberts Animal Hospital, she had the chance to do everything from reception to surgical tech to hospital management.

“Mount Ida gave me the foundation and experience I needed to become proficient as a vet tech,” said Levy. “Being an alumna means that I invested in my education and training so that I am able to develop my skills to the fullest. Ultimately, I see myself in a teaching position in the veterinary field.”

Deciding next moves

In 2010, Levy decided to go back to college to obtain her bachelor’s degree in vet tech. She found that continuing her education created opportunities for new interests. It helped her make the move to South Shore Animal Hospital full-time in 2012 to support their rehab program and management team.

“Don’t be complacent – challenge yourself and make sure you always have goals and things you want to learn,” stated Levy. “My proudest accomplishment has been my ability to practice in all my areas of interest. In addition to being a CVT, I am also a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and CCRP, so I have been able to develop skills associated with special interests like behavior and rehabilitation.”

Fashion Merchandising and Marketing alumna Justine Lemoine ’08 had a longtime dream of working in e-commerce for the retail industry. Today, she is the Manager of Merchandise Programming at Rue La La, an exclusive online community that offers premier-brand sales from their online boutique, headquartered in Boston. Before landing her current gig, Lemoine also worked at The TJX Companies, Inc., Talbots, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Balancing Business & Design

“The professors I had with real-life retail experience were a true inspiration for jumpstarting my career path,” stated Lemoine. “The balance of design and business classes within the Fashion Merchandising and Marketing program has definitely helped me excel in the analysis portion of my job, as well as the creative side of the position.”

As a Manager of Merchandise Programming, Lemoine is responsible for running the company’s residual inventory by collaborating with event production, merchandising and planning to create various events on the website. From her previous on-campus involvement in the Student Merchandisers and Marketers Association; she learned how to stay up-to-date on current fashion events and was exposed to other industry professionals.

Advice to New Graduates

“Have the drive and ambition to use the tools Mount Ida has provided you with, so you can get where you need to go,” added Lemoine. “Networking is a key element and it’s never too early to start making connections. Take the time at Mount Ida to get to know your professors and peers on a professional level because it’s always helpful to have an advocate when job searching.”

Lemoine’s proudest accomplishment at our college was receiving the Dorothea Taylor Memorial Award for History of Fashion and Costume during Senior Week. She is passionate about the fashion topic, which applies to her position. In the future, Lemoine hopes to continue working in the e-commerce side of retail and plans to grow her career to the executive level.