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.”

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.