January 23, 2017

When you see firefighters in their recognizable protective gear, you know they are being shielded from the raging heat of the fire.  But what you probably don’t think about is how that gear is made, out of what material and what does it take to ensure the safety of those wearing it.

For Betsy Dolinko, a 2010 graduate of the Mount Ida College Fashion Design program, that is her concern every day.   As Quality Control Supervisor for Lion Apparel, www.lionprotects.com her job is to decontaminate, inspect and repair turnout gear and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to optimize protective performance and ensure the safety of the firefighters using the gear.

Dolinko began her pursuit of her career taking Fashion Merchandising and Marketing courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. “I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I liked working with my hands and decided a shift to Fashion Design and Mount Ida was the right move.”

Once at Mount Ida, Dolinko realized she had an affinity for working with industrial machines and fabrics.  “I was able to launch my career as an industrial sewing machine operator and grew within the company to a higher position,” says Dolinko. “But it was my technical and mechanical skills that got me the job.”

Today, she works with a variety of specialized heat-resistant and strong synthetic fabrics that are thermal and water resistant. “Kevlar is one of the strongest materials and so the machinery we use is very heavy duty. Our largest clients at the Boston location are the Boston Fire Department, the Air National Guard and the US Coast Guard.”

Dolinko speaks proudly of what she considers a career highlight, as least so far.  “In 2016, my company opened a new location in Memphis, TN.  The Memphis Fire Department is about 400 fire fighters larger than the Boston Fire Department and I was sent down for three weeks to train all the staff and set up the machinery.”

She says she feels very fortunate to be doing what she loves and offers that advice to anyone thinking of entering the field.  “For me, it didn’t matter whether I was working on silk or working on burlap, I knew I wanted to work with industrial machines.  I followed what I enjoyed and stumbled upon an industry I never even considered entering.  It is an honor to keep our fire fighters safe and I am very proud to do the work that I do.”

Faculty Fellows for Community Engagement Dive In to Service-Learning!

After a summer of workshops and trainings, the four Faculty Fellows for Community Engagement enthusiastically embarked on their first semester of service-learning. Working with a variety of community partners, the Fellows aligned their course learning outcomes with the needs of a non-profit to address social issues.

Nancy Aldrich, Assistant Professor for Business Administration, worked with the Newton Community Farm in conjunction with her Business Communication course to provide the non-profit with much needed online communication resources.

Tracy Blais, Associate Professor of Veterinary Technology, transformed her Pre-Capstone course to include a wide variety of service projects that helped to prepare students for the required Capstone projects in the spring semester by working to address needs of animal organizations throughout the region. Vet Tech students worked with a number of community partners throughout the fall semester and learned more about major issues with non-profits in the animal world.

Stephanie McGoldrick, Assistant Professor of Interior Design, required community engagement work through her First-Year Experience course, and had students collecting clothes, food and toys for people in need. McGoldrick will be embedding service-learning into her Design course for the spring semester by through work with the Chesterbrook Community Housing Project in Waltham. The course will redesign the community center at the housing project, allowing the organization to have plans for a fundraising campaign.

Jamie Picardy, Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban Planning, worked with the Newton Department of Planning and Development through her First-Year Experience course, where the students helped the City of Newton manage “Smart Growth” for the future planning.

The end of the fall semester offered the Faculty Fellows some time to unwind, and reflect upon their service-learning journey, as President Brown hosted a luncheon with the Fellows and the CITE staff as a thank you for all their hard work. While the Fellows met monthly throughout the semester as part of a cohort to receive resources around service-learning, one of the most rewarding aspects of the meetings was the opportunity to share experiences, successes and challenges with one another.

Each of the Fellows have a clear passion for work in community engagement, and will spend the spring semester making adjustments to service-learning sections of courses from the fall, and also building service into other existing courses.

The hard work of these Fellows has not gone unnoticed, as there has been a tremendous ripple effect across campus with more faculty engaging in community engagement than ever before. This past fall there were 12 community engaged courses, with 141 student participants and 1,996.25 hours of service, which amounts to an economic impact of $57,891.25.

Fourteen students from the Mount Ida Vet Tech program, under the watchful eye of Assistant Professor of Veterinary Technology Kimberly Karolides, made their way to Thailand during the January semester break.

During the course of the 11 day trip they spent time at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. ENP was founded by Lek Chailert and is a sanctuary for abused elephants. They also care for dogs, cats, horses and water buffalo that live at the park.

The Mount Ida students spent time working with and caring for all of the animals. The veterinary clinic had them assisting with spays and neuters, taking radiographs, and giving vaccines. They learned about each elephant at the park, gathered food for them in the jungle, fed them watermelon, assisted in wound cleaning and some even were allowed to draw blood. Meeting and speaking directly with Lek Chailert was a highlight for all.