CVPA alumna: Heather Kelly

The recent grad talks about her experience as a transfer student, the success of the CVPA’s flourishing Interior Architecture + Design Program, & making Metropolis Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Design Students in North America.”

Heather Kelley, CVPA, Interior Architecture and Design student
Heather Kelly recently graduated from UMass Dartmouth after completing her Interior Architecture + Design program.

When Mount Ida College announced it was ceasing operations at the end of the spring 2018 semester, many students were left to find new institutions to complete their degree programs. Some students were well into their programs of study and needed to find an alternative university that would allow them to transfer all of their earned credits in order to earn their degrees on time. One of those students is Heather Kelly, who recently graduated from UMass Dartmouth after completing her program at the College of Visual & Performing (CVPA).

“I graduated from the Interior Architecture + Design (IA+D) program. UMassD offered to take in all of the students in my graduating class after Mount Ida College closed in 2018,” says the Hooksett, New Hampshire native who was recently recognized as one of the “Top 100 Design Students” by Metropolis Magazine. Since transferring to UMassD from Mount Ida College along with more than three dozen other students, Heather says she as well as all of her peers seem to have flourished.

Soon after the program, which originated at Mount Ida, arrived on campus, university officials recognized its value and began the process of making it a permanent major. UMass Dartmouth swiftly secured approval to offer the only accredited public IA+D program in New England. By May of 2019, nine of the 38 IA+D transfer students graduated from UMassD’s program designed to prepare students to excel in a fast-growing profession.

“Heather has embraced many opportunities during her academic experience, participating in internships, service-learning experiences, and being the America Society of Interior Design (ASID) student chapter president her senior year,” says Dr. Botti-Salitsky, IA+D  program coordinator. “She is an exceptionally talented individual, with an inclusive personality that always made an extra effort to mentor and engages underclassmen.  I’m very happy that she has been recognized by Metropolis Magazine, a leader in the design industry, and can’t wait to see what she accomplishes throughout her career.”

“It was very important for my graduating class to all stay together after Mount Ida College closed. We loved our program, our professors, and each other. When UMassD gave us the opportunity to stay together it was a no-brainer that we all decided to give it a shot,” Heather says. “Rose Botti-Salitsky and Stephanie McGoldrick (IA+D faculty member) have worked tirelessly to get the IA+D program off the ground. The students are all so grateful to them and helped as much as we could because we are truly a family, not just a bunch of kids getting the same degree.” 

Making Metropolis Magazine’s top 100 list

“Metropolis Magazine releases a list of the top 100 design students in the country every year, and I am so honored to be listed among those students, especially my amazing roommate Caroline who is going to be so successful in whatever she does,” Heather says. “I encourage everyone to apply for awards or honors like this because you never know how other people value your work.”  

Landing a full-time, field-related job

“I am a Project Coordinator at Cube 3 in Lawrence MA. I just started this month, but I already feel so welcome. I truly believe that the IA+D program and the CVPA prepared me for my current position,” she says. “I am so proud of everyone in my graduating class that found jobs in the career field right out of college. That is a hard thing to do, especially with the pandemic. I can’t wait to see when all my peers become my colleagues in the workforce. The industry is small, and eventually, everyone will cross paths.”  



Date: Year 2021, Degree Type BFA, Departments College of Visual Performing Arts, Features, Features Student Story, Program Pages undergraduate degree, UMassD - Home