Transformative Education


As CEO of Emergent Music LLC, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate Diane Sammer '81 (left, with Professor Jim May) is a perfect example of how a liberal arts education prepares students for the future.

An entrepreneur in the creative economy, she founded Emergent Music LLC, a customized Web-based music experience at, which connects people to music and to each other based on their tastes and preferences.

With a curriculum aimed at imparting a broad range of knowledge and developing intellectual capacities, "My MCLA education prepared me well for my career as an entrepreneur," Sammer says. Indeed, the College prepared her for work in an industry that did not exist when she was in college.

"When I arrived on campus, I was struggling to make sense of the world and the purpose of my life and I needed a college that was affordable," Sammer recalls. "What I found was much more than a place to land. I came to MCLA because I knew I needed to continue my education and it was within my financial reach. I stayed because I found what I needed."

Her experience at MCLA was "transformative," Sammer says.

"I had few expectations coming into college and I was completely wrong about what I thought I wanted. In the end, though, I found what I needed and I was well supported in the process."

In addition to the peace and beauty Sammer found in the Berkshires, "It felt good to be here," she says. "I found a community that embraced me and nurtured me and offered me shelter while I grounded myself."

She graduated in 1981 with a degree in psychology and a minor in computer science - which turned out to be the perfect foundation for a career that started with customer service then moved into sales, marketing and finally management - all in technology companies.

Sammer soon found her first job at Computer Sciences Corporation - one of the largest software companies in the world at that time. There, she met the people who joined her as co-founders of Systems/Link, a firm that provided software and network services to the global wireless industry.

From that point forward Sammer says her career was "on." Sammer was featured in Wireless Week magazine as one of 24 "Enterprising Women of Wireless" and Systems/Link was named by Inc. magazine to the "Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S." Systems/Link was acquired by HNC Software (now Fair Isaac & Company) in 2000.

"At MCLA, I learned both sides - the technology and the human - and that gave me the basis to learn how to work with the people who make the technology work and with those who benefit from technology.  I've been the one in the middle," she says.

After Systems/Link Sammer went on to found Goombah with three partners in Portland, Maine.

"I hold my college experience with me every day," Sammer says. "MCLA provided me with exactly the foundation I needed to build an amazing career."