Together, Gaels Go Further: The Impact of Mentorship at Iona
Kevin Mejia ’23, a former mentee in the program, writes: “When I received my full-time employment letter transitioning from intern to full associate, after my mother, my mentor was the second person I shared the news with.”
Now in its third year, the Gaels Go Further Mentoring program connects students with successful alumni to help prepare them for their careers after graduation. In a recent survey, 97 percent of students who participated in the program this semester indicated they would recommend the experience to a peer.
The following testimonial perfectly captures why Gaels Go Further Mentoring is uniquely impactful for Iona students and alumni alike.
Kevin Mejia ’23
“Usually, after a long day of classes, I would make my way back to the dorms with one of my dear friends to ‘chill’ for the rest of my day. One afternoon I made the walk alone, as she had a reception at the LaPenta School of Business. The following day, I asked her, ‘What was it for?’ Behold, the first time I heard of the Gaels Go Further Mentoring Program.
At the time, being a junior meant I was at the brink of my final year, and the fear and uncertainty of ‘what comes next?’ ran through my mind day and night. Looking to immerse myself to find my ‘what,’ I asked my friend if I could join the program, although the welcoming reception for the new mentor and mentees was behind us. Luckily enough, I was accepted into the program. Looking back, it’s a moment that I laugh and shake my head at; since its significance was not so very obvious at the time. A cornerstone in who I am today, a moment that I’m so very grateful for, a moment that I know had, has and will continue to bring my dreams into this reality.
Connecting with my mentor, Tim Brown ’79, brought an excitement to learn from an individual who walked the same campus and lived the same uncertainty at some point in his life. From the first Zoom call, Tim and I formed a bond that was built on support, value-driven stories, advice and guidance. Analyzing self-development articles, books and content, I slowly began to build a confidence and structured ambition that burns within me more and more each day.
At the time, I knew two things: I have my entire life in front of me and I have no clue what to do with it. This led to the anxious days that clouded my mission and vision embedded by God. Tim became a well of wisdom that aligned my dreams and goals, with actionable and practical habits and actions that no matter how big or small, made me 1 percent better each day.
‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.’ The first time I heard the infamous quote by Steve Jobs came from my ‘homework assignment’ from Tim. Now eight months removed from graduation, with a career that I'm so very grateful for, this quote brings me goosebumps when I think about it.
Uncertainty is something I’ll never escape, however, what I do with it has taken a complete 180. Each morning, this uncertainty brings a thrill and excitement. Tim helped me believe that I’m worthy and that I’m capable. My entire life, the phrase ‘you have so much potential’ brought a feeling that I wasn’t living up to it, at times making me feel fraudulent. Tim helped bring habit and compliance to my everyday life, building confidence while maintaining humility. Without a doubt, when I connect the dots of the last three years, Tim’s influence, friendship and genuine support mark each one of them.
When I received my full-time employment letter transitioning from intern to full associate, after my mother, Tim was the second person I shared the news with. I owe Tim for this, not with monetary or physical objects, but with a promise to at some point be a mentor to another Gael who may be clouded with their inner struggles and uncertainties.
A 30-minute conversation with a ‘stranger’ every two weeks may seem minute, but for me, it has made all the difference. Get yourself that mentor, don’t cancel the call to hang out and ‘chill.’ For you, it may be what you need to bring the person you already are to the surface.”
Tim Brown ’79
“Iona University is a very special institution and being able to give back to our current students at this point in my life is a blessing! When I first heard about the Gaels Go Further Mentoring Program I inquired immediately as I have a great appreciation for all the mentors I have been fortunate to have in my life!
Kevin Mejia and I were paired up during my first of three mentor/mentee relationships and we are still connected two years later. It is a joy every time we touch base, and his personal growth is wonderful to witness. Kevin is always learning and implementing things based on that learning and this mindset will benefit him all of his life. To hear from him recently about his transition from intern to full associate made my heart sing!
Yes, our Iona students benefit from this program, but so too do the alumni that get involved. These relationships have immediate impact and have the potential to be lifelong. If you are considering becoming involved in the Gaels Go Further Mentoring program, I highly encourage you to join and grow.”
Whether you are a Gael looking to give back or a student looking for career advice and someone to talk with about your life goals, we are confident we can help find the right connection through our Gaels Go Further Mentoring program! Please visit us online or contact David R. Nielsen, assistant director of Student-Alumni Engagement and Gaels Go Further Mentoring, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 633-2410.
Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.