It was standing room only in the campus center theater for this year’s Next Big Thing student competition, the School of Business’ equivalent of “Shark Tank.”



First place winners Zack Samiljan and Tyree Singletary.

The event was the culmination of four months’ work by the participants who wrote full business plans for each idea that was submitted to a panel of judges in advance. Then, they got to take to the stage to pitch the highlights and to answer hard questions on their proposal details.

First up was Cameron Morison pitching the concept of Intramural Unicycle Basketball. His mission was to provide a safe and comfortable learning experience to help in the growth of unicycling as a sport, hobby and meditation method that would promote fellowship among the student population in the spirit of friendly competition.

Next was the team of Kaela O’Connell and Alexandra Battaglia with their “Good Dog” business model. To be located in Wellesley, Good Dog would provide dog daycare, overnights and walks in an indoor/outdoor facility that would be completely crate free.

Second place winners Alexandra Battaglia and Kaela O'Connell.

Second place winners Alexandra Battaglia and Kaela O’Connell.

Following was “Stage Presence LLC,” presented by students Ryan Burch and Thomas Thompson, passionate lovers of music whose plan is to develop an online music service that would serve as a unique social network connecting indie and garage and established musicians to new audiences.

Closing out the night was “Yur’rito, a food-truck concept presented by Zack Samiljan and Tyree Singletary.  Catering to college students who crave food at odd hours and who enjoy putting together admittedly unhealthy options in unique ways, Yur’rito would service college campuses through an App.

At the conclusion of the presentations the judges set about making the tough decision as to which business plans would be awarded prizes. Yur’rito was acclaimed the first place winner and presented with a check for $1500 and Good Dog took home second place and $750.

The distinguished panel of judges included; Zachary Rosen who works with the NES Group, a bank design company and Corey Bowdre, founder of the Bowdre Group, a boutique consulting firm specializing in sports marketing, player career transition and small business growth.

Joining them were Christopher Reynolds, a computer and networking entrepreneur focused on information security and workflow efficiency, Jean Williams of Williams Consulting Group with more than 20 years of experience in executive/leadership development and general management and Geoff Cramer, CEO and founder of SocialMadeSimple, a company that creates web-based tools to help small businesses succeed on social media.

The prizes presented to the Next Big Thing winners were made possible by a generous donation from Gregg and Pamela Rosen.  Their son Zachary, who graduated from Mount Ida in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management, always spoke highly of his Mount Ida experiences in both the classroom and on the lacrosse field.

His parents, proud of his accomplishments and seeing how Mount Ida was growing and changing, established the Business Plan Competition to give other students the opportunities Zachary had. In opening remarks, Gregg Rosen shared his thoughts with the students. “Nothing is easy about success but there are opportunities to do something wonderful.”

And wonderful it was. “On to next year,” adds Sharon McKechnie, Dean of the School of Business.

The keynote speech for the 117th Commencement was delivered by Steve Pemberton, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise in the world, employing 370,000 people in 25 countries.

Mount Ida College President Barry Brown welcomes the class of 2016 to the 117th commencement ceremony.


A highlight of Mount Ida’s Commencement each year is the awarding of the coveted Lettieri award for teaching excellence, presented to faculty who go above and beyond in the classroom and for the students at Mount Ida College.

Named in honor of the late and gifted Professor Lettieri, this year the Ronald J. Lettieri Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Associate Professor Alioune Gueye, who teaches in the Veterinary Technology program. Alioune joined the college in 2003 and received tenure in 2012. In nominating him, students noted the special care and concern that he devotes to helping them learn in his courses.

And for just the second year, Mount Ida presented the Adjunct Award for Excellence in Teaching.  This year’s recipient is Professor Ellen Stein, who has been teaching at Mount Ida for a decade.  She has taught English as a Second Language, Introduction to Expository Writing, Expository Writing, Composition and Literature, Short Story and Public Speaking.  Her ability to help students understand the process and mechanics of good writing and to develop their own skills and confidence were especially lauded in the nomination papers.