Love, Gaels: ‘The blessings of a future that I couldn’t predict’


Photo made on Canva

For this issue’s “Love, Gaels” column, Brandon Fairweather writes about his time at Iona and thanks his fellow Gaels who helped him flourish.

Brandon Fairweather, Staff Writer

May 15, 2020. To most, this was likely just another agonizing day inside as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on. However, to me, it symbolized so much more— a bittersweet day in which I had to say goodbye to everything I knew and welcome everything I didn’t. 


As I captioned an Instagram post “Business handled,” I was elated to have finished high school and be able to celebrate that accomplishment with my family and friends. However, with every high feeling comes a low, which was anxiety about my future as an Iona Gael. 


Saying goodbye to environments and people that you’re familiar with isn’t easy, let alone trying to replicate the feeling of home in a new environment. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I tend to be introverted. Like many other people, I don’t always feel comfortable being myself around new people. 


However, if there’s one thing that I’m grateful for, it was becoming a Gael during the pandemic. As I introduced myself to my fellow Gaels, I realized that I wasn’t the only person who felt lost exploring something new and navigating through a challenging time in the world. 


Through this unique, unparalleled experience, I’ve met people who have changed my life for the better, impacted my growth as a person and have encouraged me to come out of my shell. Without those Gaels, the version of me who writes this article doesn’t exist today. 


When put into perspective, if it weren’t for such a strange pandemic experience, I wouldn’t have met my best friend, who introduced me to her friend group of people she knew; my Honors Program peers with whom I have experienced challenging times with; the friends I’ve made, who I’ve connected with on a deeper level or those I’ve met through classes, who I greet each time I walk on campus. 


There’s a popular saying coined by Pittacus Lore that says, “A place is only as good as the people you know in it because they make or break your experience.” With this being said, many can relate to the sentiment that the people of Iona make this institution all the better. 


While the Gaels I have met changed my life and encouraged me to be more of who I am every day, those who I have met, thanks to Iona, and aren’t close to anymore – whether that’s due to personal reasons or them transferring — have drastically shaped my experience here. They’ve nudged me in different avenues or paths that I otherwise would not have engaged in.  


Through Iona, I’ve had the privilege of closely following and rooting for the sports teams and experienced fun campus events with my friends for the first time. I’ve also been able to take part in many adventures with my Iona friends outside of campus, which has led me to places and opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined in high school. 


As my chapter at Iona comes to an end, I constantly reminisce about the version of myself who had said goodbye to everything he once knew and laugh. Little did he know about what he had to gain in life from his peers as an Iona Gael.