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akashaThe son of a traveling software salesman, Akasha S. Hodge has lived around the country his entire life. Massachusetts, however, was never really part of the plan.

Yet when he stopped in the Bay State long enough to earn an associate degree from Mount Wachusett Community College, his varied talents, interests and life experiences converged with academic training and put him on a path that led to where he is today: senior designer for customer marketing at Google.

“This is a dream job. I work with the brightest of the brightest,” says the former Fitchburg resident, who graduated in 2006 with a degree in Computer Graphic Design, a program that has since evolved into Graphic & Interactive Design. “Google is the kind of place where every day I’m working with a lot of different types of people, with a lot of different backgrounds, and everyone brings something new to the plate. To be a part of it is really exciting to me.”

By the time he arrived at MWCC in 2005, Akasha had already spent a few years in art school in Arizona, in music school in London, working with computers and technology in music production, and dabbling in self-taught graphic design in Maine. His move to North Central Massachusetts came at a time when he was craving higher education.

“I shopped around at different schools to see what was going on. My goal was to look at the portfolios on the website, and if they were inspiring and motivated me, I would talk to the institutions. I was totally underwhelmed by what I saw – until I went to the Mount.”

Akasha toured the college’s graphic design studio with department Chair Leslie Cullen, and was impressed with the technology as well as the dedicated faculty.

“I showed up one day for a tour and I remember being really impressed with how state-of-the-art the department was. I felt I wanted something smaller, with more attention between students and teachers.” The convenience of attending a nearby school, the value derived from the low tuition, and the fact that many of his credits from other colleges transferred into the program, made the decision easy, he says.

“I just dove into it. I spent day-in and day-out in the studio, working from home and completely immersed in the design program. I loved it and I loved all my professors. I think that’s why the program is so successful. You have professors who have had real life experience and always really want their students to succeed. I’m an example of that. I’m a product of that and I’m forever grateful to the Mount.”