Mount Ida graphic design students Julie Smith ‘14 and Alicia Heaney ‘15 were named college finalists for their photography work in Photographer’s Forum magazine’s 34th Annual College & High School Photography Contest. Smith and Heaney were selected by Photographer’s Forum Magazine, an award-winning publication for emerging professionals, from a pool of over 16,000 submissions from the United States, Canada, and around the world.

Smith, a Richmond, RI resident, who has been previously honored for her artwork on both local and national levels, has always had a passion for photography and its ability to creatively express ideas and feelings. She was recognized by Photographer’s Forum this year for her work entitled “Aviphile” and “Determination.”

“My photograph entitled Determination was inspired by Pixar’s short La Luna,” noted Smith whose photograph depicts a character holding an old wooden ladder to the moon.

Fellow Mount Ida finalist, graphic design junior Alicia Heaney, travelled back to her roots to capture her nominated photograph.

Heaney’s photo depicts the abandoned remains of the Rocky Point Amusement Park in her hometown of Warwick, RI.

“I used to go to the park when it was open as a child and I remember it being so bright and vibrant,” said Heaney. “Now all that remains are the shells of some of the buildings and a few rides.”


Alicia Heaney ’15 – Rocky Point Amusement Park

Heaney noted that her inspiration was born out of her desire “to capture the remaining structure of the dock in a moody way, juxtaposing something that it was once in all its glory, now shadowed by the fact that it has been abandoned for almost twenty years.”

For both Heaney and Smith, photography is an opportunity to view the world in different ways and to share that unique vision with others.

For more information on Mount Ida’s Graphic Design program, please visit our website or contact  Mount Ida’s Department Chair of Graphic Design Alison Poor-Donahue at

Information on Photography Forum Magazine is available at

When Mount Ida College senior Brittany Sprague packed her bags to begin her study abroad program in Queensland, Australia, she never imagined that she would find herself caring for koalas.

Choosing to study abroad in Australia during her freshman year at Mount Ida, Sprague had always planned on making time to volunteer in the local Australian veterinary clinics while there, never envisioning she would also experience the opportunity of a lifetime: caring for rescued koalas.

Once in Australia, Sprague networked with classmates and landed a volunteer position at Mogill Koala Hospital, which provided her with the ultimate professional experience in wildlife management and exotics.

“Working at the koala hospital was an amazing experience,” says Sprague, “before coming to Australia, I had never even seen a koala and now I was helping to save them. I even got to care for the occasional wallaby or kangaroo.”


One of the leading veterinary technology programs in New England, Mount Ida’s Veterinary Technology program provided the perfect foundation for Sprague’s work at Mogill Koala Hospital: “Because of the veterinary training I received at Mount Ida, the staff trusted me to administer medication to the koalas and made sure I had the opportunity to observe life-saving veterinary procedures.”

But Australia wasn’t all work and no play for Sprague. While studying at the University of Queensland, she forged lasting friendships and enjoyed a few uniquely Australian adventures, such as attending rugby games, bungee jumping and skydiving.

Mount Ida’s career-focused curriculum and  Office of Career Services not only encouraged Sprague to look for professional development experiences abroad, but also helped her to begin thinking about building a career early on in her college experience. In addition to her volunteer work in Australia, she has held several internships closer to home, most recently, completing a neurology rotation at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital.

Looking ahead, Sprague is on track to complete her M.S. in Management from Mount Ida’s Accelerated Five-Year BS to MSM degree next year. She plans to leverage her valuable exposure to real world animal healthcare and her master’s degree to start a rewarding career in veterinary technology.

To learn more about the studying abroad at Mount Ida, please visit the Center for Global Connections. For more information about Mount Ida’s Veterinary Technology Program, visit our undergraduate majors.

You don’t have to ask Mount Ida 2010 alumna Tulsi Patel what her passion is, instead you have to see it. Patel, a now successful furniture designer living in New Jersey, does not talk about her journey to success in the interior design industry without mentioning those who believed and pushed her towards her dream first – her family.

For Patel, the meaning of family is far reaching and grew exponentially the minute she stepped foot onto the Mount Ida College campus as a freshman in 2006.

“I remember going on a tour of the Mount Ida campus with my dad and quickly realized that I felt at home, and part of a small, private community,” recalls Patel adding, “and of course my dad really liked the fact that I would be safe.”

After speaking to Interior Design Professor Rose Botti-Salitsky about Mount Ida’s Interior Design Degree Program and learning that it is one of the few nationally accredited programs in the area, Patel’s decision to attend was quickly decided upon.

“Mount Ida was breathtaking to me – the campus, faculty members and ultimately the one-on-one interaction and guidance with faculty that I would be receiving throughout my four years and beyond really played a part in my decision to attend,” said Patel.

During her time at Mount Ida, Patel recalls being challenged by her professors; challenges that continued to push her and can be seen in the quality of her designs.


“I will never forget my perspective class professor, the late Tommy Yamamoto. It was one of the best but most challenging courses I took at Mount Ida, but it was one of the best memories I have. He always pushed us to think outside the box and repeatedly told us ‘you have no choice,’ ” notes Patel. “What I learned to this day is truly invaluable.”

Patel now fondly thinks back on her time at Mount Ida, citing one of her favorite memories as late night design sessions in The School of Design, where she and her classmates would take breaks to watch the basketball games.

“We would leave after class, watch the games and return to the studio to finish our work,” said Patel. “It was those games and the Mount Ida environment, which energized us to keep pushing.”

Today, Patel is living out her design dream as a furniture and autoCAD designer at Modern Line Furniture in Rahway, New Jersey. She credits fellow Mount Ida Alumni Dawn Hoppel, who works for Nelson in New York City, for recommending her for the job.

Patel was able to recently show off her furniture designs at the BDNY Expo in New York City with Modern Line Furniture’s sister company, Borghese Couture Hospitality which she assisted in launching.

“I never thought I would be designing furniture for hospitality companies,” says Patel. “The fact that I can say ‘go to that hotel – that’s my furniture’ is a dream come true.”

Patel continues to see growing success in the design industry and knows moving forward in her career, she will always have the support of her family – both personal and Mount Ida in nature.

“My interior design classmates and I quickly became friends whom turned into family,” notes Patel.

Asked what advice she can offer students just beginning their own education journeys, Patel said: “Our field is one that requires perseverance. You’ll need it at Mount Ida, pay attention and apply what you are learning in the projects. That education is invaluable and will always come in handy. Another piece of advice is something that my dad always says: do what makes you happy, if you aren’t happy, then what is the point? ”

“It’s important to stick with your passions and to see your dreams through; I am so happy I did,” concludes Patel.

For more information on the Interior Design Program at Mount Ida, please visit our degree program homepage.