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Expanding Horizons

How the next generation of Gaels is growing with the guidance of alumni mentors

Iona University’s Gaels Go Further Mentoring program brings students and alumni together to help enable all Gaels to achieve personal and career success. Now in its third consecutive year, this presidential initiative continues to provide an avenue for alumni to make a direct impact on current students in a unique and fulfilling way. One of the many mentor-mentee connections that best embodied the transformative nature of these relationships also happens to be one of the most unique. During the 2022-2023 academic year alumna, Cathy McCabe ’85, was paired with Mohamed (Mo) Salah ’23, with the goal of guiding Mo in his pursuit of a career in finance despite his majoring in Chemistry. While Cathy was an English major during her time at Iona, and Mo was readying to graduate with a degree in Chemistry, it was Mo’s career interests that provided a common ground. Cathy’s breadth of experience in finance, and her welcoming demeanor, was the perfect combination to provide Mo just the support he needed as he considered how to take his academic experience and chart a path toward achieving his career goals. Hear from Cathy and Mo directly about the meaningful connection they both fostered through Gaels Go Further and consider mentoring a student at Iona today.

Cathy McCabe ’85 and Mohamed (Mo) Salah ’23
Mentor Cathy McCabe ’85 and mentee Mohamed (Mo) Salah ’23.

Cathy McCabe ’85

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for both students and alumni to connect—it’s a two-way street for learning.”

Being a part of the Gaels Go Further Mentoring program at Iona University has been extremely gratifying.

The program is a fantastic way for alumni to give back to the Iona community and students. I love listening and learning from the minds of such bright and inspiring young people, being a sounding board, letting them bounce ideas off me, and helping them navigate the path to their future aspirations. As a mentor, I listened to learn about their dreams, aspirations, and goals.
I shared my experiences and expertise, and provided advice and counsel to students as they continued their educational journeys and embarked on their careers.

Working with my mentee, Mohamed (Mo) Salah (2023, Chemistry) was a delight. Mo always came to our sessions prepared. Whether it was to review positions for which he applied, to practice mock interview questions, or the best ways to follow up after an interview, Mo was always open-minded and ready to learn and had his ideas and suggestions as well. Mo was thorough in his research, diligent, and tenacious in his job search, looking for a career and firm to strike the right balance with his Chemistry degree and outgoing personality. Mo was not afraid to network and make outreaches to those in his field of interest. Mo was successful in his pursuit and is currently flourishing in his role as a senior sales executive at a medical laboratory firm!

For alumni looking for ways to give back, I highly recommend joining this program. You will not regret it!

Mohamed (Mo) Salah ’23

“I cannot be thankful enough for this program, as it helped me to determine what I want to do in my career and brought me one step closer to success.”

I joined the Gaels Go Further Mentorship program during my senior year at Iona University, hoping to meet wonderful, successful mentors and alumni. I was matched with Cathy McCabe, and I remember the entire student and alumni engagement office only having great things to say about Cathy. Cathy connected with me on the Gaels Connect platform right away and we scheduled our first Zoom meeting.

I was a little nervous before our meeting, but Cathy made my nervousness dissolve in seconds. For how much she has achieved in life, Cathy is one of the most humble, caring people that I have ever met in my life. I never thought I would grow close with my mentor, but Cathy made it extremely simple. I was a Chemistry major who wanted to work in finance/sales, and her story showed me that anything is possible with hard work. Cathy was an English major, yet worked in TIAA for over 30 years.

Cathy gave me a lot of advice that may sound basic, but is key in the sales/
client-facing world. One of them was to always get back to people as it shows how trustworthy you are with your words. I have used that advice, and it has gained me a lot of business by just doing so. During the end-of-year Gaels Go Further Ceremony, Cathy and I finally got the chance to meet in person, and it was amazing! She gave me a card that says “Believe” on it, and it is a reference from Ted Lasso. She told me to always look at it and remember to believe in myself anytime in doubt. Today, I still have it in my wallet and look at it every time I need encouragement.

The Gaels Go Further course is one of the most powerful courses at Iona, and
I recommend that every student take it. It is a great way for undergraduates to connect with successful alumni who can pass on lots of wisdom. David Nielsen and the Alumni Engagement Office have put an incredible amount of work into the program, and it shows. Iona University has improved a lot over the last few years, and networking is something we do really well. Because Gaels take care of Gaels!

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