A grad student working on her MA in mental health counseling, Jillian Cea ’21 has utilized her own experience with loss to support others who are going through the grieving process. Now starting her second year in her master’s program at Iona, this native of City Island attended Cardinal Spellman High School and plans on someday starting a private practice.
Having lost her brother when she was 14 years old, Jillian attended a support group that did much more than help her through the grieving process. “This group is so important to me because I know what it is like to feel alone and hurting as I did after losing my brother, and the support group I attended helped so much,” shares Jillian. This experience inspired her to choose a career where she would be helping people. After completing her undergrad in Psychology, she felt compelled to do more than just take a break from school.
“My community has had many losses. I knew some of these people very well, and I feel there was a lack of support for them. On July 10th I launched the first group on City Island. I called the group Compassionate Journey because grief is a journey, and I want to walk beside people through their journey. There has been such an outpouring of support for my group that it made me realize how much of a need there was for this,” says Jillian. She adds, “To be able to help grieving individuals find comfort means so much to me.”
Previous to starting this bereavement group, she volunteered with The Tree House, a bereavement center in Scarsdale, N.Y., for four years where she was a facilitator for children who had lost a parent or sibling. She plans to continue Compassionate Journey through the school year and after graduation wants to work in a mental health facility while earning her post-graduate hours towards licensure. “I hope to eventually start my own private practice one day to help individuals going through different mental health problems, as well as creating other support groups,” says Jillian.
Jillian’s brother attended Iona’s business school and she knew several alumni who spoke highly of their experience at the College, but what ultimately drew her to Iona was the feeling of being at home. “I experienced the support and professionalism from the faculty and staff. I love how my program has a small student to professor ratio, and I really get individual attention and support from my professors,” shares Jillian.
Her advice to prospective students is to “Visit the campus and do some research beforehand. There are so many programs and opportunities if you take the time to look into them. The professors and advisors want you to succeed, so ask them questions and get to know them!”