As a Mount Ida student, Jeffrey Megna, M.Ed., respected his funeral service professors for their expertise in classroom labs and lectures. Now, as Department Chair, Funeral Service Programs, Megna feels like he has returned home again to give back to our college that trained and educated him for the funeral service industry.

Sharing practical experience

With over 30 years of practical experience, Megna has worked in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts as a licensed embalmer, funeral director, and certified funeral service practitioner. In addition, Megna taught high school biology and anatomy/physiology for many years before deciding to teach at the college level.

“I truly believe this profession, much like teaching, is an art,” stated Megna. “We honor the deceased and their family by the manner in which we serve them; with dignity and respect. Perhaps the most rewarding part is hearing the words ‘thank you’ from a family member and knowing that you truly made a difference in their life.”

Applying skills to career

As Department Chair, Megna is heavily involved with developing course curriculums, but his favorite class to teach has always been Anatomy and Physiology. Through learning about the human body’s complexity from cell, to tissue, to organ, to system, to organism, students understand how each body part works in conjunction with each other. In the classroom, Megna also stresses the importance of building interpersonal skills with qualities such as understanding, patience, concern, and dedication.

“Our profession is truly one of service; we see people at their most vulnerable time,” said Megna. “Families look to us for direction and guidance. We as funeral service professionals should feel honored and privileged when called upon to serve the needs of others.”

All of our interior design professors at Mount Ida College come from different backgrounds, but share a common goal. They aim to prepare students to make a lasting contribution to the design of the human environment. Professor Jennifer Sarabia, M. Arch., understands the importance of transforming spaces, and possesses unique qualifications from her professional endeavors in the industry.

Innovation Studio

Before Sarabia joined the interior design program in 2006, she participated in the internationally recognized Charlie Cannon and Michael Singer’s Innovation Studio at the Rhode Island School of Design. During her graduate studies, she explored complex problems, such as the design of landfill mining operations, eco-industrial parks, power plants and municipal waste systems through an interdisciplinary approach. In addition, through founding her own interior design firm Sarabia/To Design, Inc., Sarabia began specializing in site specific residential architecture and interior design.

From her education and experience, Sarabia brings applied skills into the classroom. She teaches students how to design for a broad range of environments, including residential, office, retail and hospitality. Her courses include: Introduction to Interior Design, Office Design, Commercial Design, Environmental Design, Professional Practice, Environmental Building Systems, Universal and Inclusive Design and Thesis Advising.

Design explorations

Professor Sarabia’s wide-range of experiences provides much value to our students. Specifically, her interest in combining fine art with architectural design has lead to rousing class discussions and new approaches to studio projects. With Sarabia’s knowledge of biomimicry, a new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and imitates the design to solve human problems, students are presented with innovative design solutions, which they can implement in their own class projects.

“Beautiful architecture and interior spaces comprise many different contributing aspects,” said Sarabia. “These aspects are both physical and psychological, and shape how we live, how we work, how we experience and how we perceive space.”

The competitive field of graphic design requires students who are detail-oriented, intellectually curious and inventive. At Mount Ida College, our professors bring their own real-world experience to the classroom. Not only are our students learning what it takes to become successful in the industry, but they are receiving advice from professionals who have mastered competitive portfolios themselves.

Bringing graphic design to life

Before joining the Mount Ida community, Alison Poor-Donahue, Program Director and Professor, M.F.A., taught graphic design at Northern Essex Community College, North Shore Community College, Montgomery Community College, and the University of Massachusetts. Additionally, at the University of Massachusetts, she was awarded the “Exceeding Expectations Teacher Award.”

Now, at our college, she specializes in advanced courses for graphic design, typography, production techniques, computer illustration, digital imaging and web site development. Known for her creative curriculum, Professor Poor-Donahue educates graphic design majors with her practical, hands-on instruction. Whether she is teaching in the studio or advising the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Student Chapter, Poor-Donahue creates ongoing awareness of global design practice trends and technologies.

Real-world perspective in classes

Along with her innovative curriculum, Poor-Donahue’s real-world mindset keeps students keenly aware of the competitive nature of the industry. As an Art Director and Designer/Web Developer, Poor-Donahue aspires for what’s next, especially at her own company, Alison Poor-Donahue, Inc., which she has owned for fourteen years. Her proven ability to transform concepts into reality, while delivering revenue-enhancing campaigns allows her to train students properly for future clients and projects.

“Over the years, I have been fortunate to have worked with colleagues who share the same creative aspirations. Sharing ideas and practical knowledge with other artists is invaluable,” said Poor-Donahue. “I believe that in art, education never stops; there is always more to learn.”