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.”

Kathleen DiIorio, Alumna and Visiting Professor, M.B.A., returned home to Mount Ida in 2012 to teach about the secrets for success in the vibrant and creative industry of fashion merchandising and marketing. As a former student in the program, she was familiar with our small, close-knit community, so she decided to rejoin the college in a professional capacity. In the classroom, her focus is on management whether she’s talking about consumer behavior or fashion marketing.

Experience immersion

DiIorio’s own education was heavily influenced by her immersion in our art and design community. Her inspiring instructors shaped the career choices that she’s made from working in retail sales and customer services, to visual merchandising and design, to buying. She has held titles, such as Merchandise Coordinator, Marketing & Merchandising Manager, Associate Advertising & Promotion Director, Visual Designer, Development Coordinator, and Associate Buyer.

“Discovering what it is about Fashion Merchandising and Marketing that each individual student is compelled by can often become a focus as I often try foster learning in that particular area,” said DiIorio. “Ultimately, I hope my students walk away inspired, genuinely wanting to create something, to add value somewhere or to something with all of the knowledge that they’ve acquired.”

Following industry trends

In order to stay on top of different styles and techniques in fashion merchandising and marketing, DiIorio follows a number of online resources for fashion inspiration. She enjoys interactive social media sites, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Polyvore, as well as the fashion blog scene. Some of her favorite blogs include: The Sartorialist, Refinery29, and StyleList. However, she also continues to look at key fashion publications and local fashion events, exhibits, and shows. Recently, her students attended the Mario Testino Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, representing one of fashion’s most sought-after photographers.

Mount Ida students may now study history and interdisciplinary studies, while exploring the rich diversity of American life from a variety of perspectives. From colonial America to Modern America, students receive a broad grounding in the study of the United States. Thanks to Steven Eames, Chair of the Department of History and Interdisciplinary Studies, Ph.D., students can learn about a variety of disciplines without the hassle of studying in two different departments.

Interdisciplinary training

“As much as I love history as a way of knowing about who we are today, I always believed that American studies was a better fit for our college because it provides more flexibility for students in a professional path than a traditional history major,” said Eames. “American Studies includes history, and many students are drawn to it because of an interest in that field, but it is much more.”

Endless career options

Professor Eames believes that American Studies provides a basis for many professional paths, such as secondary education and government, and is the perfect springboard for graduate work in law, history and political science. For instance, many of his graduates pursue teaching at the secondary level, and because of the major, there is flexibility to teach in more than one area.

Pursuit of history

“Since a very early age I have been a complete nut about history,” stated Eames. “I think the students appreciate the passion I bring to the subject. They all learn that history is not a bunch of dates, names, and events to memorize. History is a story about human beings.”

In addition to teaching history courses and interdisciplinary seminars, Eames pursues research and writing in history. His publications include a book on the community of Nahant, Massachusetts during the Civil War, and another book entitled Rustic Warriors: Warfare and the Provincial Soldier on the New England Frontier, 1689-1748.