A Letter to the Ionian

Bridget Marie Noujaim, Former Features Editor

Dear Editor: 

When I first heard Iona was becoming a university, I will admit, my feelings were not ones of excitement, but ones of deep trepidation. I was concerned that the Iona I knew and cherished would become a mere shadow of itself, and I was even more upset at the thought that Iona could potentially lose part of its identity in the rush to become bigger, stronger, and faster, so to speak. 

I am so very pleased to have been proven wrong! Alumni and Homecoming weekend October 14-16 was a wonderful reminder of just how profound my feelings toward my alma mater are, and how easy it was to slip back in, as if two and a half decades hadn’t passed since my graduation. This being a milestone reunion year for my class made me all the more eager to attend as many of the festivities as possible.  

As I wandered the campus, taking in the new and reminiscing about the old, I was so very delighted that Iona’s spirit was alive in full force. I was truly touched and impressed by the students, faculty, staff and alumni who made me feel so appreciated and engaged. The professionalism and dedication were evident: Facilities Management and Security were ever-present, showcasing the beauty of the campus and keeping everything moving smoothly. The catering services staff was spectacular, and the administration teams were so personable. Even more inspiring were the students, who, whether they realized it or not, were acting as ambassadors without knowing the effect they were having. 

So many current undergraduates went out of their way to make me comfortable, and in doing so, proved that no matter what Iona calls itself – whether it’s “College” or “University” – the intangibles that make Iona so unique will never change. These impressive young people enthusiastically gave me directions, showed me around their dorms, brought me to see the offices of some of the clubs with which I had been involved, chatted with me about their lives at school now, and cared enough to ask me about my own memories from 25 years ago – before they were even born.  

They greeted me on campus with a friendly wave. Many stopped to welcome me “home.” Several stepped right up to make conversation, simply because they had seen me around so much over the weekend. Without actual words, they convinced me that the Iona I knew and loved was still right there in New Rochelle, and it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

I would like to offer my sincerest and warmest thanks to each and every member of the Iona community for making my return so very special. Emotional as I was when the memories flooded in front of my eyes, and I recalled the good times and the bad, I knew immediately that the positive would always outweigh the negative. These students reminded me of that. They offered me hope, they offered me warmth, and they offered me so much joy. Once a Gael, always a Gael; I am deeply honored and humbled by that connection. 

May God continue to bless Iona, its staff, and students, with health, prosperity, and peace. 

Bridget Marie Noujaim, ‘97 

Former Ionian Features Editor 

Waterbury, CT