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Buffone Lands Dream JobBuffone.Vincent

Credits AMC experience for success

Vincent Buffone ’11 first learned of Anna Maria College through his high school guidance counselor at Holy Name in Worcester. After much research, he realized AMC was the perfect fit for him as it offered a graphic design major and newly renovated art studios. The idea of small classes with more individualized attention appealed to him as well.

“The most important take away from my time at AMC was the close, family-like atmosphere,” said Buffone. “The great friends and faculty inspired me to try hard and never give up on my goals.”

Buffone speaks highly of his experiences at AMC, especially those in the classroom. He loved being able to create and collaborate with friends. He explains that there were many group projects and opportunities for peers to critique each other’s work. “It was just a good time,” he says.

Buffone found the classes further enriched by the faculty leading them—Humanities with Dr. Ronald Sherwin, in particular. “The way that Dr. Sherwin taught made the academic subject material fun. His teaching style and personality made me want to do my best to succeed.”

When he graduated from Anna Maria College, Buffone lost sight of his original goals and was disappointed with the quality of his art. He attended Assumption College for a graduate degree in business, but soon realized that he missed the art world and that he needed to use his art background in some capacity. He stopped pursuing his graduate degree and visited the Career Services Office at AMC to inquire about graphic design positions. What he found was the majority of openings were for internships, not full-time positions. Needing to start somewhere, he took an internship with a small company in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. There, he learned a lot about the graphic design profession and embraced the job’s challenges to achieve more than he could have ever imagined. Plus, this experience significantly improved his existing graphic design portfolio.

Newly equipped with an enhanced portfolio and practical experience, Buffone landed his current job as a user interface visual designer for Dassault Systemes, an international software company that specializes in 3D CAD software for engineers and designers. His responsibilities include designing icons and other graphics related to the user interface in Dussault’s products.

“This was my dream job. After all my struggles as an artist, I finally found the job I always wanted,” said Buffone. “I couldn't have done it without the special people in my life that I learned so much from along the way who kept me motivated to achieve my goals.”

Buffone is a member of the AMC Alumni Association Board of Directors. When he’s not working at Dassault Systemes, he enjoys creating digital paintings in Photoshop, playing around with web design, and watching movies.

Written by Marlena DiMattia ’17 (Art Therapy)


Doing What She Loves

Amber Wilson ‘08

From the time she stepped foot onto campus, Amber Wilson knew that Anna Maria College was the perfect fit for her. She loved the spiritual environment and was fond of having the campus set in the woods of Paxton, yet very close to Worcester. When looking at colleges, she had five schools on her list, but AMC was always at the top.

Amber had applied to AMC for its Art Therapy program, which she had discovered at a college fair. She was not familiar with this program but remembered, “When I saw an ‘Art Therapy Major’ sign on one of the tables at the fair, I had an epiphany and knew down to my core that this was what I wanted to pursue.”

There are many professors that Amber learned from and was inspired by. Art professor, Alice Lambert, was especially important to Amber’s college education. Amber shared, “I can’t say enough about her; she made me into a disciplined artist by offering me constructive criticism when needed. I didn’t always accept it and she wasn’t always my favorite, but by the time I graduated it was Professor Lambert that I knew I would miss the most.”  Amber also acknowledged Professor Michael Boover for his honesty and appreciation for the simple pleasures of life. She had said she experienced a lot of spiritual growth from his down-to-earth style of teaching.

Amber now works at Atria Senior Living in their Kennebunk, Maine location as an Engage Life Director. Her job is to develop an engaging and enriched monthly calendar of events with “whole-person component programming.” These are programs designed to encourage residents to explore mental, spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing. This is done through civic engagement, creative expression, outings, and cultural events.

Amber stated, “If AMC had not provided me the opportunity to complete a summer internship, I probably never would have walked in Atria Senior Living’s doors and my life would be completely different!” Amber has taken what she learned from a variety of classes from AMC and has applied them to her position. She teaches acrylic, watercolor painting, calligraphy, therapeutic arts, meditation and guided imagery; all of which she learned at AMC.

“Although nothing has been smooth sailing, I am proud of my independence and accomplishments. There are many obstacles in life, but the more you get through them, the stronger you become. Take advice from loved ones, but never doubt what your gut says. If you are able to face your fears, you can face anything.”

A Musical Icon
Anne Walsh '84
Anne Walsh '84 chose to attend Anna Maria College for a few reasons. One was that she was interested in music therapy and AMC had the only nationally accredited program in New England at the time. The second reason was that she wanted a smaller college where she would get the attention from professors that she needed and where campus life was not too overpowering. Third, she liked the location, because it was close to her family. Anne says, "Anna Maria was a perfect setting for me to learn as a young lady. I have fond memories and so many friends to this day."
Although she had grown up dancing and did not start singing until she was 15 years old, Anne knew that music was a way to help and heal people. She attended AMC with very little musical knowledge, even though she knew she could sing. What she found during her years on campus was a love for voice as an instrument. Anne credits Dr. Robert Goepfert, the then Music Department chair, as being a wonderful mentor and a "very kind man." In addition, she fondly remembers the guidance and tutelage from professors Malama Robbins, Jane Lahikainan Martin, Janetta Petkus, Maureen Britt Connors, Roger Greene, and Sister Lorraine Gagnon.
After graduating with a degree in Music Therapy, Anne went on to California State University of Long Beach to study for her Master's in Voice. Her passion for music led her to pursue opera and then musical theatre in California. For the last 10 years, Anne has focused her musical performance endeavors in jazz. In 2009, she put out Pretty World, a jazz collection featuring tunes with a Brazilian feeling, along with unique arrangements of jazz standards and lyricized versions of contemporary instrumental jazz classics. The record was nominated for a Grammy for the musical arrangement by her husband, Tom Zink, on the track "In the Still of the Night." In 2011, she released the record Go. Both albums have received national and international recognition and airplay and have allowed Anne and her band to perform nationally and internationally in places such as Brazil and Romania.
For the past eight years Anne has been teaching at AMDA L.A. (Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts), the famed college and conservatory for the performing arts.
For more information about Anne Walsh, visit
A Real Hot Shot
Greg Vigneaux '13
Greg Vigneaux '13 is a real hot shot alumnus. Literally. He works for the United States Forest Service on the Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew based out of the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California. A Hotshot Crew is an elite wildland fire suppression resource that can be ordered to respond to wildland fires burning anywhere in the nation. Crews do not fight fire by using water. Rather, they use chainsaws and hand tools or set fires themselves in order to create a continuous break in the vegetation around the fire known as a 'fire line' or 'hand line.' Progression of a fire is prevented by removing fuels in its path.
Greg is a recent graduate of the Self-Design Degree Program at Anna Maria College. He originally entered AMC after taking several courses at Mount Wachusett Community College and enrolled in the Fire Science Program after a campus tour and discussion with then director of the Fire Science Program, Everett Pierce. Greg was in the Fire Science Program for several semesters before learning about the Self-Design Degree option from Fire Science professor, Matt Hinds-Aldrich. He then created the degree, Wildland Fire Management.
After finishing his courses in December 2012, Greg took some time to ski and begin the daunting process of finding a job with a Hot Shot crew. There are about 100 crews nationally, each with only one to two annual vacancies and hundreds of applications from aspiring crew members. It is a very competitive hiring process. Greg landed his job with the Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew in early spring and spent his inaugural year, mid-April to mid-October, fighting wildland fires in California and Alaska.
Greg credits two Anna Maria College faculty members with having an impact on his college experience and his career, "Matt Hinds-Aldrich and Sue Swedis (Associate Professor in Environmental Science) both had an enormous impact on my time at AMC. In addition to being instrumental during the design process for my degree, they both challenged me academically and as a result, changed the way I think."
As Greg pursues his master's degree, he reflects back on AMC. "What I learned [at Anna Maria College] became immediately helpful in the field and has continued to help me while I pursue my graduate degree."
To learn more about the Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew, visit

Fulfilling a Dream
Michael  Molla '84

Unlike many students whose parents question their decision to major in art, Michael Molla ’84 had the full encouragement of his family to pursue an art degree – if he attended a small, private college.

“They knew I would only flourish in that environment,” Mike recalls. “It was important for them, and me, that I had a broad based education that offered a comprehensive student centered experience.”

Accompanied by his grandfather, Mike came to campus for an interview and portfolio review with Professor Ralph Parente, then chair of the art department.  Professor Parente began the review by asking him to talk about each of the 15 pieces in his portfolio for which Mike was well-prepared.  Professor Parente then asked a question that caught him off guard.

Within minutes of flipping through his portfolio, Professor Parente asked Mike to describe in detail, ‘How do you think?’  “I remember responding nervously that I don’t really know,” shares Mike.  “I was prepared to talk about each piece of work in my portfolio, not answer the type of question he was asking.”  According to Mike, Professor Parente responded, “this is one of the first questions you will ask yourself on your journey to become an artist this September here at Anna Maria.”

For Mike, his education started right then and there and continued through his four years at AMC.  “Professor Parente systematically raised my creative and professional aspirations beyond what I ever thought possible,” he says.

Mike’s education was rounded out by other faculty and staff, including Dean of Students, Hollie Ingraham, Sr. Rollande Quintal, SSA ’62, and Sr. Paulette Gardner, SSA ’67.  “Their commitment to students...continues to echo in both my heart and mind today.  They helped inform, educate and develop values that are reflected in my daily work to this day,” he claims.

After graduating, Mike planned to become an art teacher, but teaching jobs were in short supply in the wake of Proposition 2 ½, which impacted school systems in Massachusetts. Utilizing his experience as a resident assistant at Anna Maria, Mike accepted a full-time job as a Resident Director at Fitchburg State College. This led to a residence life position at Denison University in Ohio, followed by a stint as Assistant Dean of Student Life at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland.

Fulfilling a dream to combine his dual love of art and student affairs, Mike moved to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, one of the top art colleges in the country.  After rising through the ranks to become a chief student affairs officer, Mike currently serves as MICA’s Vice President for Operations. Although very happy in his current role, he hopes to one day serve as a college president.

Mike credits Anna Maria College with providing him with both a strong academic and co-curricular preparation and for supporting his aspirations. “Every moment at AMC, whether in the classrooms, studios or participating in student organizations, I felt as though the entire College was there to support my personal and educational journey,” he comments. “We could not get away with just being average students at AMC; we were expected to be great students.”

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