BS Childhood & Early Childhood, 2012
MS Education in Special Education and Literacy, 2015
Iona College has been part of my life even before I was born. My parents were both students when they met 40 years ago. The decision to attend Iona, however, was not to follow their ways but rather to take advantage of all that Iona offered me. I wanted to go away to school but at the same time I wanted to be able to go home every so often. Additionally, what other school can provide a location less than an hour away from the crossroads of the world? Iona was the choice, hands down. Unlike my parents who choose to be accountants, I chose the classroom. My parents encouraged me to follow my dreams. Since I was a student who struggled when I was younger, I always wanted to be like the teachers who helped me become the person I am today. Ever since I was younger, I would always find myself working with and helping children. With my decision to declare my major in Childhood & Early Childhood Education with a concentration in history, I knew my journey was beginning.
During my time as an undergraduate at Iona, I truly got to experience a great campus life. I was blessed with many great roommates, and lived in a suite of 10 – those who I am still friends with and consider my family now. Together, we explored campus and the clubs that Iona offered. I joined the Gaelic Society as well as the Education Club. In my junior and senior year, I was the Publicity and Events coordinator and treasurer for the Education Club. Working for the Office of Student Development during my time at Iona, helped me get even more involved and meet even more wonderful people. In addition to working on campus, I enjoyed supporting Iona athletics. After hearing about the program “Iona in Mission,” I decided my senior year to apply and was able to participate. My trip was to Miami where we completed our service at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep. My team was given the opportunity to teach lessons and work alongside middle schoolers. During our down time, the students got to show us their athletic skills.
I was given many opportunities to get inside the classroom at Iona starting sophomore year to make sure this was the profession I wanted to pursue. I completed my student teaching at New Rochelle’s Ward school where I had the pleasure to work alongside amazing teachers in the third, fifth & kindergarten classrooms.
As all seniors did, I came to realize I would soon be leaving the campus life and entering into the “real world.” This was a scary thought but with my experiences from Iona I was able to jump right into the real world. I spoke with one of the best professors, Margaret Cunzio, about what I should do. I told her how I have been a Catholic school student all my life and would like to start my teaching at a Catholic school. She directed me to plan a meeting with Dr. Paul Beaudin. After meeting with Dr. Beaudin the week before graduation, I left with a maternity leave subbing job for the rest of the school year. I was excited and sad about graduating from the Iona and leaving all my friends who turned into family to start the next step of my journey. A week after graduation, I walked into a middle school classroom in the South Bronx at St. John Chrysostom.
I finished the rest of the school year in addition to working the summer program and was given an opportunity to become a full time teacher as a 6-8th grade teacher. I was scared at first because I always would see myself as a kindergarten teacher. I loved every minute of teaching the older children. Now I get to see some of their sport games in high school as well as their plays. That is the best feeling as a teacher – having children who want your support and showing them you are always there for them.
Looking back at my journey so far, I can only say that I have been truly blessed and rewarded for many things. Most of all, I have been allowed to be part of the community that provided me with the support, encouragement and strength that allows me to prosper in the journey of life. Six months after graduation, I started graduate school at Iona, during the spring semester after starting my teaching job. My experience for graduate school was filled with many great professors and classes, and many professors pushed us to challenge ourselves. Due to the fact I was working in the field, I was able to bring all valuable lessons between both classrooms.
There are days when I am sitting in traffic on the Throgs Neck Bridge on my way to work and wonder what I am doing. However, these thoughts quickly disappear when the traffic begins to move and I think of those 20 young children waiting for me at the end of the trip. That to me is what I want to do with my life – help children move along their journey of life. Hopefully, I will be able to accomplish such an important goal. My experiences at Iona, as well as my time in the real world, has provided a great foundation to assist me in my own learning process. St. John Chrysostom has become my second home all thanks to Iona, and is currently a home to four graduates of Iona College.