Interview with Dr. Nadia Maria Vassallo, IDEA College Principal

Background and Vision

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in education?

I began my career as a supply teacher in a trade school, where I quickly realized the significant impact that dedicated educators can have on students’ lives. The nobility of the teaching profession, combined with my personal circumstances—married and raising three children and the sudden passing of my father—drove me to invest in myself and my education. With the constant support of my husband, this journey of continuous learning led me from a B.Ed to a Master’s in Literacy and Language in Education, to a postgraduate focusing on Dyslexia specialist teaching, and ultimately a doctorate in education. My passion for education and the desire to make a difference have been the guiding forces throughout my career. 

What motivated you to join IDEA College, and what is your vision for the institution?

Joining IDEA College was driven by a sharing of the same vision with Dr De Bono and Ing. Maione.  We all believe in creating a transformative educational environment that caters to a diverse range of fields and levels. My commitment for IDEA College is to contribute to its growth and towards making it a model of educational excellence, where innovative programmes and dedicated faculty come together to foster holistic student development, preparing them for successful careers and meaningful contributions to society.

Transformation Journey

What were the key factors that drove the transformation of IDEA Academy into IDEA College?

The key factors behind the transformation were the recognition of the need to diversify our educational offerings and the ambition to provide comprehensive education spanning levels 4 to 8 of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). This transition was driven by a commitment to meet the evolving needs of students, industry and the country, ensuring that our graduates are well-equipped with the skills and knowledge required for success.

Can you share some of the challenges you faced during this transformation and how you overcame them?

I have to say that this was a natural step for IDEA Academy.  The strategic direction of the Academy was very clear from the onset and over the past years and months the management, together with the team have worked consistently towards a clear objective.  This year is the 20th anniversary of IDEA Academy.  We now tap into more than 12 fields of study and have 51 accredited programmes in our portfolio, hence clearly the transformation from Academy to College was the natural way forward.

Innovative Approaches

What innovative approaches and programmes have you implemented at IDEA College to enhance educational excellence?

At IDEA College, we’ve introduced several innovative programmes, such as interdisciplinary courses that blend theoretical knowledge with practical application, and partnerships with industry leaders and experts to offer real-world learning experiences. We’ve also incorporated cutting-edge technology into our teaching methods, including a media studio, a high-end nursing simulator and online collaboration platforms, to enhance learning engagement and accessibility.

How do these new programmes and initiatives benefit the students?

These programmes provide students with a well-rounded education that balances academic rigour with practical contextualised experience. They are designed to cultivate critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability—transversal skills that are essential in today’s and more importantly tomorrow’s dynamic job market. Additionally, our industry partnerships offer students valuable opportunities and hands-on experience, giving them a competitive edge in their future careers.

Future Goals

What are your short-term and long-term goals for IDEA College?

In the short term, our goals include expanding our course offerings, enhancing our technological infrastructure, and strengthening our industry partnerships. Long-term, we aim to establish IDEA College as a leader in innovative education, recognized for our commitment to excellence and our ability to adapt to the ever-changing educational landscape. We also aspire to expand our reach globally, attracting students and faculty from around the world.

How do you envision the future of education evolving, and what role will IDEA College play in that future?

The future of education is increasingly leaning towards personalized, flexible learning experiences that cater to individual student needs and career aspirations. IDEA College commits to take an active role in this evolution by continuing to innovate in curriculum design, embracing new technologies, and fostering a learning environment that promotes creativity, collaboration, and continuous improvement.

Leadership and Influence

How do you describe your leadership style, and how has it influenced the staff and students at IDEA College?

I describe my leadership style as leading from the front and with purpose. Integrity and authenticity are core values that I uphold in all my interactions. I feel that this approach fosters a culture of trust, accountability, and motivation among both staff and students. Together with the management and my colleagues, I believe that by setting a clear vision and leading by example, I strive to inspire and empower others to achieve their best.

Can you share a success story or a moment you are particularly proud of since taking on the role of principal?

I cannot share successes as a Principal at IDEA since this is a very recent appointment, however, as part of the IDEA Team, I feel very proud of what we do in general.  We commit to supporting our students and we are constantly enhancing our services to do so.  I am particularly proud of our DBA which now has two cohorts running.  This interdisciplinary programme was met with overwhelming enthusiasm from both students and faculty.  The level of commitment and the quality of the studies that the students in this programme are showing is incredibly rewarding. Obviously, any success is a testament to our collective efforts and the dedication of the entire IDEA College community.

Student and Community Engagement

What opportunities do you offer to ensure students are well-prepared for their future careers?

We offer a range of opportunities including placements, industry projects, career counselling, and workshops on essential skills such as academic skills, transversal skills, communication, and digital literacy. Our strong connections with various industries enable us to provide students with relevant, contextualised experiences that prepares them for their future careers. Additionally, the recently established alumni network will surely support us in offering mentorship and networking opportunities, further supporting our students’ career development.

Personal Insights

What do you enjoy most about being the principal of IDEA College?

I am honoured to have been trusted with the role, of course, and I hope to be able to contribute to the team and to the organisation.  More than anything I enjoy being part of a dynamic team composed of diverse brilliant individuals who are so beautiful and rich in their abilities, experiences, attitudes, and diversity.  They all have an excellent work ethic, and each one has so much to offer to help the organisation continue to evolve. I also appreciate the opportunity to work with a dedicated team who share my passion for making a positive impact through education.  I also enjoy being involved in the growth and transformation of our students. Seeing them overcome challenges, develop new skills, and achieve their goals is incredibly fulfilling.

Can you share a piece of advice or a motto that guides you in your professional life?

My personal and professional philosophy is that leading life with purpose helps us experience clarity about who we are and what matters. In turn, recognizing purpose requires four essentials: humility, integrity, authenticity, and the courage to act. That is what I constantly remind myself of, and it is what I wish for the ones I care for, including staff and students. This plus education can truly help us make a difference in life.

Message to Students

What message do you have for current and prospective students of IDEA College?

To our current and prospective students, I want to say that your time at IDEA College is an opportunity for new beginnings.  When I decided to work on my future it changed my life completely and here I am today.  Hence studying at IDEA College should be a time to explore, learn, and grow personally and professionally. Embrace the challenges, stay curious, and be proactive in your education. We are here to support you every step of the way, and I am confident that you will achieve great things.

How do you assure alumni about the quality and prospects of an education at IDEA College?

To our alumni, I assure you that IDEA College remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of education and continuously improving our programmes to stay relevant in today’s world. Your success is our pride, and we are dedicated to ensuring that your qualifications remain valuable and respected. Stay connected with us, and know that you will always be a part of the IDEA College community.

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