After graduation from Mount Ida College, Kerlee Nicolas ’08 joined ConAgra Foods, a leading Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company in North America. As a Business Administration alumnus, Kerlee Nicolas found his niche in the industry where he works as an Associate Category Manager with grocery brands at Wal-Mart. In his current role, he focuses on sales trends and key drivers, and creates a story of why his company should or should not move forward with a business decision.

Applying Classroom Lessons

“The academic program at Mount Ida had a great influence on my ability to immediately understand the business principles I would face in the professional world, and gave me the tools for a strong foundation in my career,” said Nicolas. “There are many things that can only be learned with experience, but knowing the basics of supply and demand, cost and margin, how to market a good or service, and understanding what drives consumers to purchase will give you a competitive advantage when entering the work force.”

Possibilities Become a Reality

Prior to graduating from college, Nicolas worked as a Retail Sales Associate for Kraft Foods Frozen Pizza Division. In this role, he woke up at 4 a.m. every day to sell cases of frozen pizza to grocery stores in the Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire area, always making it to class by the afternoon. From that experience, he was promoted when his company was acquired by Nestle USA. After a year and a half, he moved on to work at ConAgra Foods in Bentonville, Arkansas. In the fall 2013, he will begin a part-time MBA program at the University of Arkansas.

“To me, being a Mount Ida graduate represents opportunity,” concluded Nicolas. “I feel blessed and forever grateful for the college and faculty members who took their time to educate and mentor me along the way. No matter where life takes me, I will always have a Mustang family back home.”

Growing up in the City of Malden, Teddy Louis-Jacques ‘11 never imagined that he’d one day have an influence on his local government or teen youth. But this criminal justice major has succeeded, and today he’s helping others do the same. Since graduation, he has worked with as a Constituent Services Representative in the Mayor’s Office and, currently, he is an Assistant Coordinator of the Malden Teen Enrichment Center (MTEC), providing a welcoming, safe environment for teen social interaction.

Becoming a Community Leader

“I’m heading in the right direction,” said Louis-Jacques. “Everything that I’ve ever wanted has come true. I’m working in my hometown for local government, with the youths of the city, and I’m a high school basketball coach. My dream job is to be the Mayor of the City of Malden. I have some ways to go, but I’ll make it happen.”

Louis-Jacques’ determination to achieve his dream job comes from surrounding himself with positive people and, most importantly, smiling every day. During his time at our college, he was a student of The Learning Circle (TLC), 2011 Class President, a basketball player, Student Government Association’s Treasurer and Senator, a Balfour Peer Leader, and a Resident Assistant. Because Louis-Jacques was actively involved in campus life, he developed leadership skills for the real-world.

Mustang Pride & Memories

As a recent graduate, Teddy Louis-Jacques is already singing the praises of former staff and faculty who mentored him in college. He names Deborah Hirsch, Addie Dare, Heidi McLore, Professor Tennant, and his basketball coaches for preparing him with the interdisciplinary skills for his future career in local government. From all his experiences, he is most grateful for learning about teamwork and trusting others, which is a big part of his job in engaging community youth.

“One of my proudest moments at Mount Ida was delivering my speech at graduation as Class President,” added Louis-Jacques. “It was such an honor to represent and lead the Class of 2011, and I am thankful for all of the people that contributed to my success in school.”

Name: Geoff Carlson ’13
Major: Funeral Home Management
Hometown: Falls Village, Connecticut

What factors influenced your decision to come to Mount Ida College?

The primary factor for choosing Mount Ida was my major, Funeral Home Management. The reputation of the program in the industry is exceptional, making it an easy decision when I was accepted. It is one of, if not, the most respected mortuary colleges in the country.

Why did you become a funeral home management major?

Being a funeral director was never one of my career dreams growing up. However, once I started working for Brian Kenny at The Kenny Funeral Homes Inc., in Sharon, Conn., that changed for me. At the time I worked there, I was also dating his daughter. Initially, I was simply trying to make a good impression. As time passed, I began to see how everyone in the community loved and respected him. After being under his wing, I found it impossible to imagine myself not in this profession.

What do you love most about our campus community?

Living on Mount Ida’s campus, I can honestly say that I love the sense of family here. Whether you commute or live on campus, you will love it! I know because before I pursued my bachelor’s degree in funeral home management, I earned my associate degree in funeral service here.

How have you gained experience in your major outside of the classroom?

Having already earned my associate degree, I passed the National Board Exam easily. After that, I completed my one year apprentice then passed my state board exam. I am now a licensed Funeral Director at Funk Funeral Home in Bristol, Conn.

Being in the business of death and dying, what is your take on the cycle of life?

Linda Ellis, I believe, said it best in the last two lines of her famous poem, The Dash: “What matters is how you live and love; and how you spend your dash.” She is referring to the dash on one’s tombstone between their birth date and date of death. What is important is how you live and love. Because we don’t ever know what day will be our last, it is important to say I love you and not stay angry at the people we care about for too long. That is part of the reason that I chose funeral service. I want to be there, to help one person, one family make the pain of losing a loved one a little bit easier; to help them heal a little bit faster.